Four Types of Sym­bio­sis

Asian Diver (English) - - The Best of Voo -

Most divers are aware of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween clown­fish and anemones. The colour­ful fish bor­rows the pro­tec­tion of the sting­ing ten­ta­cles, to which it is im­mune, and in re­turn keeps the anemone clean and fends off po­ten­tial en­e­mies like but­ter­fly­fish by emit­ting a high-pitched sound.

This type of long-term sym­bi­otic part­ner­ship is known as mu­tu­al­ism, since the bi­o­log­i­cal in­ter­ac­tion ben­e­fits both of the in­volved species. Her­mit crabs that place anemones on their shell for mo­bile pro­tec­tion is an­other ex­am­ple – the anemone is re­warded with left­over food scraps when the her­mit crab is feed­ing. Clean­er­fish form a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship with fish, tur­tles, sharks and rays, even though they don’t share liv­ing space. They keep their skin healthy and free from par­a­sites, and get a bite to eat in re­turn.

Two other forms of sym­bio­sis are par­a­sitism and amen­sal­ism.

They de­scribe re­la­tion­ships in which the host an­i­mal is harmed while the sym­biont ei­ther ben­e­fits or is un­af­fected by the sym­bio­sis. Par­a­sitic cope­pods and isopods are well known on marine species, while amen­sial­ism is more un­com­mon. How­ever, most in­ter­ac­tions be­tween marine an­i­mals and hu­mans are amen­sal: Hu­mans have neg­a­tive ef­fects on many marine species, but the ef­fects of most of these species on hu­mans are neg­li­gi­ble.

The most com­mon sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship is com­men­sal­ism, when one species ob­tains ben­e­fits like food or lo­co­mo­tion from an­other species, with­out giv­ing any ben­e­fit or caus­ing harm to the host. This is com­mon among small crus­taceans and fish, and is also fre­quently ob­served with re­moras that hitch-hike on sharks to bet­ter their chances of sur­vival. Even bar­na­cles grow­ing on whales, tur­tles and dugongs are com­men­sal, although it may be dis­cussed if the host truly is un­af­fected by this re­la­tion­ship.

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