Symbiosis Mutualism

Mutualism Symbiosis Examples and Explanations

There are 3 kinds of symbiosis in general which is a relationship between living things, including symbiotic mutualism, commensalism and parasitism. In this article, we will specifically share the understanding and examples of mutualism symbiosis in ecosystems.

Understanding symbiosis mutualism is an interaction between two living things that benefit both parties. This means that in this symbiosis, the two living things involved benefit each other without anyone being harmed.

The first is the service-resource interaction which includes pollination, cleaning and seed dispersal. While the second is service-service interaction where both interactions contribute. This type is also quite rare and rarely found.

There is also a symbiotic mutualism which is an obligation. This means that the organisms involved need each other to survive. Examples of mutualism symbiosis can be seen all around us, both in animals, insects, birds, plants, bacteria, fungi and even humans.

Examples of Symbiosis Mutualism

Below will be explained 20+ examples of symbiotic mutualism in various terrestrial and marine ecosystems along with the interaction process and a complete explanation.

Flowers with butterflies

The interaction between flowers and butterflies is one of the best known examples of symbiotic mutualism. Butterflies suck honey and nectar in flower petals to make food. This process also helps pollinate flowers.

The profit will be obtained by the butterfly which gets its food in the form of honey and nectar. While flowers also benefit because the pollination process is assisted by butterflies.

Flowers with bees

Just like the interaction of flowers and butterflies, another example of symbiotic mutualism is the relationship between flowers and bees. Bees also suck honey and nectar from flower petals which help pollinate the flower.

Benefits will be obtained by bees who get food in the form of honey and nectar. While flowers also benefit because the pollination process is assisted by bees.

Flowers with beetles

One more example of symbiotic mutualism in the form of flower pollination, namely the interaction of flowers with beetles. This example is the same as the relationship between flowers and bees or flowers and butterflies. Beetles will get nectar and help the process of pollination of flowers.

The benefits will be obtained by the beetles that get food in the form of honey and nectar. While flowers also benefit because the pollination process is assisted by beetles.

Flies with rafflesia flowers

Flies and Rafflesia flowers are examples of mutualism symbiosis between animals and plants. The Rafflesia flower is known as a flower with an unpleasant odor and is nicknamed the corpse flower. This is used by flies to perch on the Rafflesia flower in search of food.

Profits will be obtained by flies that get food for free. Meanwhile, the Rafflesia flower also benefits because it is assisted by the pollination process by flies.

Zebra with wildebeest

In the African savanna, many herd animals live including zebras and wildebeests. The two species are known to be very familiar with each other. The two herds also often migrate together. In eating, the two also often divide where the zebra eats long grass and the wildebeest eats short grass.

In relation to predators, the two are also mutually beneficial to each other. Wildebeest have more sensitive instincts, while zebras have sharper eyesight. If there is a predator, the two will warn each other.

Starling with buffalo

The relationship between starlings and buffalo is also another example of mutualism symbiosis. Starlings usually perch on the back of buffalo to look for fleas on their skin. Buffaloes will also feel helped by the starlings that eat the ticks on their skin.

The advantage will be obtained by the starlings who get food in the form of lice. Meanwhile, buffalo also benefit because the itching caused by fleas is reduced.

Storks with hippos

The interaction of the stork and the hippopotamus is also an example of a symbiotic mutualism. The stork will eat the fleas and parasites on the hippo’s back. The hippopotamus certainly benefits from the habits of the crane.

Profits will be obtained by the cranes who get food. While the hippopotamus also benefits because his body becomes clean and free of fleas.

Crocodiles with plovers

The next example of symbiotic mutualism is the interaction of crocodiles and plover birds. Plover birds have a habit of eating dirt or food debris in the mouth and teeth of crocodiles. Crocodiles of course also benefit from this habit.

Profits will be obtained by plover birds who get food for free. While crocodiles also benefit from being free from oral diseases because their feces are cleaned.

oxpecker with zebra

The zebra-oxpecker interaction is also almost identical to the starling and buffalo interaction. The oxpecker usually eats fleas and other insects on the zebra’s body. In addition, the oxpecker will be a signal for the zebra if there is a predator coming.

Profits will be obtained by oxpecker birds who get food in the form of lice. Meanwhile, zebras also benefit because they feel less itching and are signaled when predators such as tigers or lions are coming.

Tropical pitcher plant with woolly bats

The relationship between pitcher plants and woolly bats is an example of a mutually beneficial interaction. Wool bats usually live in comfortable places around pitcher plants which also provide benefits for pitcher plants.

The advantage will be obtained by woolly bats who will get a comfortable place to live. Meanwhile, semar bags also benefit from obtaining fertilizer derived from bat droppings which are rich in nitrogen.

Spider crab with algae plant

The spider crab is a species of crab from Japan that lives in the ocean with the characteristics of having long legs. This species lives in the green areas of marine plants. Usually the algae plants will stay on the spider crab’s back.

Profits will be obtained by algae plants that get a place to live. While spider crabs also benefit from the presence of algae plants, spider crabs can camouflage with their surroundings so that they are not detected by predators.

Ant with woodpecker

Woodpeckers like to make holes in trees to make their nests. While ants are common in trees. Both are mutually beneficial to each other. Ants guard woodpecker eggs in trees, while woodpeckers provide protection for ants.

The advantage will be obtained by the woodpecker where the eggs are protected by ants. While ants also benefit from getting protection from woodpeckers.

Aphids with ants

Aphids are parasites that suck leaf sap. After that the ants will approach to press the back of the tick so that the liquid sap that has been processed in the body of the tick will come out and be eaten by the ants. Ants also help aphids to find food by bringing ticks to trees that are larger and contain a lot of sap.

The advantage will be obtained by the ants who get food from the liquid sap from the tick. Meanwhile, aphids also benefit from being helped to find food by ants.

Plants with hornbills

The interaction of hornbills and plants is also an example of a symbiotic mutualism. Hornbill ants often live in trees. The hornbill ants often get food in the form of pests that grow on the leaves of the trees they live in, usually mango or sugar apple trees.

The advantage will be obtained by the hornbill ants who get food and make nests in trees. Meanwhile the occupied plants also benefit because the existing pests have been eradicated.

Beans with rhizobium bacteria

Legumes and rhizobium bacteria have mutually beneficial interactions. Legumes need nitrogen-containing soil for growth. The presence of rhizobium bacteria in the soil helps legumes to obtain nitrogen.

Benefits will be obtained by legume plants that obtain nitrogen from rhizobium bacteria. While rhizobium bacteria also benefit from getting food from the roots of legumes.

Termites with flagellate bacteria

Termites and flagellates interact and benefit from each other. In the body of termites there are flagellate bacteria that will help digest food when termites eat wood. Flagellates secrete cellulose enzymes which function to make hard wood soft.

The benefits will be obtained by termites which are helped by the process of digesting their food. While flagellates also benefit because they can live in the intestines of termites.

Farmers with owls

Humans who work as farmers also have a symbiotic mutualism interaction with owls. Owls will usually prey on mice that are on farmland. This of course also benefits farmers considering that rats are pests.

The advantage will be obtained by owls who get their prey in the form of mice. Meanwhile, farmers also benefit because rats, which are pests, are reduced.

Mushrooms with algae plants

The next example of symbiotic mutualism is the relationship between fungi and algae plants. The fungus will make the surrounding environment moist so that algae plants can grow and can carry out the process of photosynthesis. Later the fungus also gets a share of the results of photosynthesis.

The benefits will be obtained by algae plants that can carry out the process of photosynthesis. While fungi also benefit because they get food from photosynthesis.

Humans with plants

This is an example of a symbiotic mutualism that we should know and feel every day. Humans and plants need each other. Humans emit carbon dioxide which helps the process of plant photosynthesis. While the oxygen produced by plants will be inhaled by humans.

The benefits will be obtained by plants that obtain carbon dioxide from humans. While humans also benefit in the form of oxygen produced by the photosynthesis process of plants.

Humans with small intestine bacteria

Humans also have a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with small intestinal bacteria. Small intestinal bacteria known as Escherichia ecoli are useful for reducing the growth of bad bacteria and speeding up the process of decay in the large intestine.

Benefits will be obtained by humans where the growth of bad bacteria is reduced and the decay process is accelerated. While the small intestine bacteria also benefit because they can get food debris from the large intestine.

This is a reference for examples of mutualism symbiosis that exist in terrestrial and marine ecosystems and involve various living things such as humans, plants, animals, fungi, fleas and bacteria. This is an example of an example of mutualism symbiosis this time.

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Engineering Student of Airlangga University in Indonesia. Love to share knowledge