Barnacles adhering to the skin of a whale or shell of a mollusk: Barnacles are crustaceans whose adults are sedentary. The motile larvae find a suitable surface and then undergo a metamorphosis to the sedentary form. The barnacle has a habitat where nutrients are available. (In the case of lodging on the living organism, the barnacle is transported to new sources of food.) The presence of barnacle populations does not appear to hamper or enhance the survival of the animals carrying them.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the whale and barnacles?
Acacia Tree and Ants
The Acacia Tree is partially protected by
large thorns, but it gets extra protection from Acacia Ants. The plant does 3 things to lure in the
ants. First, the large thorns are hollow
and provide a place for the ants to live. Second, the plants have swollen
glands, which produce a sugary solution the ants drink. The third thing the plant does is to produce Beltian
bodies, small structures which the ants bite off and eat; the Beltian bodies
are rich in protein and supplement the sugars provided. In return for the room and board the ants
chase off herbivores, kill and eat herbivorous insects, and destroy any plants
that try to compete with the acacia.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Acacia tree and ants?
Sea Lamprey and Fish
Lamprey latches onto a fish and uses its teeth to hold on and to the skin of a
fish, leaving an open wound for the lamprey to feed on. It drops off, usually without killing the
fish. Sea Lampreys are not specific on
any species of fish; they will latch onto any living thing and try to feed.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Sea Lamprey and fish?
Pilot fish and other fish
There are many examples of fish that
helpfully clean the parasitic bacteria and fungi from the bodies (or even from
inside the mouths) of other fish. The pilot fish, client fish, cleaner wrasse
and seniorita fish all eat parasites from other species, gaining a nice meal.
The other fish gain protection from the damage these parasites would cause if
left unchecked. They not only halt aggressive behaviors to allow cleaner fish
to do their work, they have been known to go out of their way to visit them.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Pilot fish with other fish?
Bromeliads and Tree
Bromeliads avoid the hassle of creating a trunk to lift their leaves above the forest floor and closer to the sun. They simply grow on the branches of trees. Since the bromeliads don't take any nutrients from the trees.
What type of symbiotic relationship are the Bromeliads and Tree?
Tapeworms and Animals
are segmented flatworms that attach themselves to the insides of the intestines
of animals such as cows, pigs, and humans. They get food by eating the host's
partly digested food, depriving the host of nutrients.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the tapeworm and animals?
Honeyguide Bird and Ratel
A species of bird called the honeyguide
prefers to eat beeswax and bee grubs. However, it isn't large enough to break open bee
hives. To accomplish this, it finds a nearby mammal, sometimes a badger-like
creature called a ratel. It then hops around to get attention and then leads
its "assistant" to the hive. The assistant wants the honey, so it
breaks open the hive to eat it, exposing the wax and grubs to the honeyguide.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Honeyguide and the Ratel?
Mycorrhizal Fungi and Trees
Many mycorrhizal fungal varieties live in close association with trees and other plants, drawing in nutrients from deep underground and providing them to the tree in exchange for a share of the energy (in the form of sugars) produced by the tree’s photosynthesis.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Mycorrhizal Fungus and Trees and
Wasps and Insects
Several species of wasp, immobilize another insect by stinging it. The female then carries the insect to a burrow, where she lays eggs within its body. After the female’s eggs hatch, the larvae consume the living tissues of the insect, this will eventually kill it.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Wasp and Insects?
Remora and Whale
Remora sharks are endowed with an adhesive disk on the dorsal surface of their heads. They use this adhesive disk to “hitch a ride” on larger animals, usually whales, which tend to be sloppy eaters. When food floats away from the whale’s mouth, the remora can unhitch itself and collect the scraps of food floating by.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Remora and Whale?
Cecropia Trees and Ants
Cecropia trees have hollow trunks, and
inside they secrete a sugary liquid that's nutritious to ants. Azteca ants
colonize the trees, filling the trunk with millions of ants, who receive
shelter and food from the tree. The tree is vulnerable to vines, which can
grow on it, weigh it down or choke it. Azteca ants patrol the Cecropia and use
their jaws to cut away any vines.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Cecropia Tree and the Ants?
Legumes and Rhyzobia Bacteria
Plants need nitrogen. It's a vital
nutrient, important to healthy growth. However, plants lack the mechanism to
extract nitrogen from the air. They can get it from the ground if the ground
happens to be fertile, but the supply can be easily depleted. In a perfect
example, certain plants have found another species that does have the ability
to extract (or "fix") nitrogen from the air. Legumes, a plant family
that includes potatoes, peanuts and many others, bond with rhyzobia bacteria.
The bacteria actually grow in nodules on the legumes' roots. The legume
provides the energy necessary for the rhyzobia to break the strong chemical
bonds in free nitrogen, and the rhyzobia produce nitrogen for the plant, plus
enough to keep the surrounding soil fertile for years.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Legumes and Rhyzobia Bacteria?
Acoel Flatworm and Algae
of the strangest cases of symbiosis is that of the acoel flatworm. These tiny
worms live along shorelines and look like masses of seaweed. The worms
themselves are transparent, but within them live algae, which contain
chlorophyll and are capable of photosynthesis. They give the worms a green
color. The algae absorb sunlight through
the worms’ clear skin and photosynthesize food -- enough food that the worms
have no functioning digestive tract or even working mouths. The algae even
recycle the worms’ waste products, and go through entire life cycles inside the
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Acoel Flatworm and the Algae?
Horsehair Worm and Grasshopper/Insects
The horsehair worm starts life as an egg laid in a puddle. The puddle dries out and a grasshopper or
similar insect comes along and eats the egg, which promptly hatches and burrows
through the gut of the insect into its body cavity. Here, surrounded by the nutritious blood of
the insect it grows until it reaches adulthood. At that point it starts
producing chemicals which take over the brain of the insect and cause the
insect to seek out water, which it jumps into.
The worm then exits the hopper and lives in the puddle, mating and
laying more eggs. The grasshopper, if it
doesn't drown, may survive the ordeal.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Horsehair Worm and the Grasshopper?
Cordyceps Fungus and Ants
The Cordyceps fungus lodges itself inside a variety of ant, and compels it to climb
as high as the ant can and then pushes outside of the ant body and allows the
fungus to replace the ant’s tissue with its own. This ensures the fungus will grow at an
optimal temperature and humidity in its habitat.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Cordyceps Fungus and the Ants?
Human Digestive Tract and Bacteria
Your digestive tract contains trillions of
bacteria and other microorganisms. In fact, most of the mass of fecal matter is
made up of bacteria. These bacteria serve a number of functions, but they
primarily break down things that our digestive system is unable to process by
itself. For example, a lot of carbohydrates make their way to the intestines
undigested. The bacteria there break the carbs down into various acids that can
be absorbed and processed. The result: We get more nutrients and calories from
our food. The
bacteria, for their part, get a steady supply of food delivered straight to
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Digestive Tract and Bacteria?
Beetle and Pseudoscorpions
A few species
of pseudoscorpions disperse by concealing themselves under the wing covers of large
beetles such as the cerambycid beetle shown below. The pseudoscorpions gain the
advantage of being dispersed over wide areas while simultaneously being protected
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Beetle and the Psuedoscorpions?
Cleaner Birds and Bigger Animals
Egrets, oxpeckers, plovers and brown-headed
cowbirds all spend a good portion of their lives riding around on other
animals. The birds pick off insects, ticks and other parasites to eat. Plovers
hop into the mouths of basking crocodiles to eat leeches. The animals (zebras,
bison, warthogs, domestic cattle) are kept clean of harmful insects. The
cleaner birds also act as an alarm system, notifying their host when danger is
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Cleaner Birds and Larger Animals?
Dodder Plant and Other Plants
plant is often found twined round the stems of clover plants or grasses, which
it damages severely. At intervals along the twining stem small root like
structures, called haustoria, link the Dodder to another plant and penetrate
into its vascular bundles. In this way the Dodder obtains organic nutrients,
water and mineral salts directly from the other plant. The other plant cannot
receive the maximum nutrients and its growth is stunted. Dodder cannot
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Dodder Plant and Other Plants?
Flower and Insects/Bats/Birds
Flowers contain nectar, a sweet, energy-rich
material that gives the insect, bat or bird a
nutritional benefit. When the animal moves on to the next flower for more
nectar, it inadvertently carries pollen there.
What type of symbiotic relationship is the Bee and Flower?
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