What is Symbiosis?

Have you ever thought about different animals, working together? Or heard the word "symbiosis"? Well that's exactly what symbiosis means! Symbiosis is any kind of close and longterm interaction, between two living creatures - either of the same species, or totally different ones! This process occurs all throughout nature, in various ways, however there are 3 main types of symbiosis.

  •  Mutualistic Symbiosis - This is the most "positive" form of symbiosis, and occurs when two creatures can BOTH benefit from a long term connection. Each species has something that helps the other, so everybody wins! An example of Mutualistic Symbiosis includes the Clownfish and the Ritteri Sea Anemone. The anemone has stinging tentacles that hurt most animals that come near, but the clownfish has special mucus that protects it! This allows the clownfish to live in the sea anemone, and be protected by other predators because of those stinging tentacles! In return, the clownfish is very territorial and will protect the anemone from any fish that want to eat it. This is Mutualistic Symbiosis because both creatures help each other, so they are better together than apart!
  • Commensalistic Symbiosis - This is kind of the "neutral" form of symbiosis, and will occur when ONE creature gains a benefit, however the other creatures IS NOT helped, or harmed either. One of the organisms can gain something from a close relationship to the other, but the other organism isn't bothered or gaining anything itself. An example of Commensalistic Symbiosis can be as simple as a spider building its web on a plant! The plant doesn't really gain anything or feel any harm from the spider, but the spider is able to make a home and feast on any insects that might come by!
  • Parasitic Symbiosis - This is the most "negative" form of symbiosis, because it occurs when ONE creature gains a benefit, however the other creature is HARMED, not helped. Parasitic Symbiosis happens when one organism lives on, or even inside, another organism known as the "host". Many times the host does not even know they have a parasite, while the parasite can survive and grow while harming the host. A very basic example of Parasitic Symbiosis would be those pesky Mosquitoes! They go from host to host, feeding on blood which takes away from the host, and even spread dangerous diseases! There are many other parasites that live inside other organisms, or stay attached for much longer than a mosquito landing on a host to feed.

 

All these forms of symbiosis can also come in 2 different types - Obligate Symbiosis, where one or both creatures need the other to survive! And then Facultative Symbiosis, where the creatures can live apart and they'll still survive, but one or both will gain a benefit if they do come together.

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