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Symbiosis Stories!
Members of different populations will interact with each other and these interactions are known as symbiotic relationships. There are five general types of symbiotic
Symbiotic name
Symbols defining relationship
+=benefits/ -=harmed/ 0=unaffected
Both species involved benefit in some way
One species benefits while the other species is neither harmed
nor benefited (unaffected)
One species (the parasite) benefits by living in/on the other
species (the host), using it for shelter and/or a food source
One species benefits from the relationship (predator) while the
other species is killed and eaten (prey)
One species benefits from the relationship from another species
that is already dead
For each relationship below, tell the affect on each organism (positive, negative, or unaffected) and then give the name of the symbiotic relationship (commensalism,
parasitism, mutualism, predation, or scavenging).
Damselfish/ Sea Anemone
The anemone provides a safe habitat for the damselfish since the fish exhibits a special tolerance to the sting of the anemone. At the same time, the fish removes
debris from the anemone and acts as a colorful lure to attract fish to the anemone on which it can prey.
Affect on damselfish____________
Affect on Anemone __________________
Relationship name ___________________________________________
Lynx/ Snowshoe hare
The main food for the lynx is the snowshoe hare. The population size of the animals is closely linked. From a low count of only a few per square mile, the number of
hares tends to gradually increase over ten years until there is a peak of several thousand per square mile. For some reason that is not fully understood, the
population of the hares then drops drastically. Lynx populations follow the same pattern, increasing gradually as their chief prey, the snowshoe hare, becomes more
abundant. As the food source becomes scarce, the lynx population declines.
Affect on lynx _________________
Affect on snowshoe hare______________
Relationship name__________________________________________
Spanish Moss/ Forest Trees
Spanish moss is not a moss, in reality it is a type of fungus that grows in long threadlike tangled mats from the branches of trees in warm, humid forests of the
southern U.S. The tree branches support and protect the Spanish moss but they are not harmed by it. The Spanish moss collects moisture and nutrients from
rainwater and the air.
Affect on Spanish moss __________
Affect on Forest trees ________________
Relationship name ________________________________________
Black-footed ferret/ Prairie dog
The prairie dog is one of the main sources of food for the black-footed ferret. As more prairie and grassland areas are cultivated and populated, the prairie dog is
crowded out. This causes a population decline, which in turn leaves less food for the ferret. When food becomes scarce, the ferret numbers decline.
Affect on black-footed ferret_________
Affect on Prairie dog________________
Relationship name________________________________________
Remora Fish/Shark
Pilot fish, feeding on scraps, benefit from the hunting efforts of sharks. Although pilot fish never stray too close to the shark’s mouth, they have been observed taking
refuge in the mouths of rays which do not eat fish.
Affect on Remora Fish__________
Affect on Shark_____________________
Relationship name_______________________________________
Flea/Dogs and Cats
Fleas are very small insects with legs and mouthparts suited for sucking. They burrow into the skin to suck the blood of the host animal. Fleas attack man as readily as
dogs or cats and they have been known to transmit tapeworms, bubonic plague and other diseases.
Affect on Flea___________
Affect on Dogs and Cats_______________
Relationship name_______________________________________
Orchid/Rain Forest Trees
Most orchids grow high in the trees of tropical forests. The trees provide the orchids with the support to grow high and allow them to capture more sunlight than
they would on the forest floor. The trees are not harmed, since the orchids neither feed on their tissues nor prevent significant amounts of sunlight from reaching
the leaves.
Affect on Orchid_________
Affect on Rain Forest Trees____________
Relationship name_______________________________________
The barnacle attaches to the whale, mostly for a home site, but with no apparent degenerative effects to the whale.
Affect on Barnacle________
Affect on Whale_____________________
Relationship name________________________________________
Termites live in colonies that have a very structured social organization similar to ant colonies. The main food of these animals is wood and other plant
material. The body chemistry of termites is unable to break down cellulose, the major component of plant material. A certain type of protist that breaks
down cellulose has invaded the digestive track of termites. The termites are able to get nutrition and energy from plant material after it’s broken down by
the protists while the protists also obtain food and energy from the plant material as it passes through the digestive track of termites.
Affect on Termite____________
Affect on Protist_____________________
Relationship name________________________________________
Ants provide aphids with protection from predators and parasites. Ants receive food as a byproduct of the aphid’s digestion. Some aphid species have
evolved to the status of little more than domestic cattle, having lost all the defensive structures of free living species. Ants will keep aphid eggs throughout
the winter and, when they hatch, carry the aphids to the roots of the plants on which they feed. Queen ants on nuptial flights, will carry aphids in their
Affect on Aphid__________
Affect on Ant_______________________
Relationship name________________________________________
Elf Owl/Saguaro Cactus
Elf Owl is one of the smallest owls in the world, measuring 6” in length. It lives in the southern parts of North America where there are giant column cactus
(Saguaro). It feeds on spiders and insects and derives most of its water from their body liquids. It can go a whole season without drinking. It lives in the old
nest holes of the Gila woodpecker, which have been pecked out of the saguaro cactus. The hole in the cactus dries out making an excellent nest for the owl.
Affect on Elf Owl__________
Affect on Saguaro Cactus______________
Relationship name________________________________________
Oxbird (Oxpecker)/Rhinoceros
Oxpeckers cling to the backs of rhinoceroses (as well as other grazing animals) and feed on flies, fly larvae and parasites. This provides a food source for the
Oxpecker and at the same time relieves the rhinoceros of parasites.
Affect on Oxbird________________
Affect on Rhinoceros_________________
Relationship name________________________________________
Mistletoe/Apple Tree
The mistletoe is a plant that grows on the trunks and branches of various trees. The European and American varieties grow most often on apple trees,
eventually causing the tree to die.
Affect on Mistletoe______________
Affect on Apple Tree_________________
Relationship name___________________________________
Honey Guide Bird/Badger
The bird finds the beehives and guides the badger to it by a special display of flight. The thick-skinned badger can open the hive and feed. Once the badger
has finished eating, the bird feeds on the remains of the honeycomb and bee larvae.
Affect on Honey Guide Bird______________
Affect on Badger____________________
Relationship name___________________________________
Magpie/Road Kill Animals
The magpie is a large perching bird with a black head, wings and tail but the belly and shoulders are white. They are common in the Western U.S. Magpies
can often be seen feeding on animals that have been killed by cars.
Affect on Magpie___________________
Affect on Road Kill Animals____________
Relationship name___________________________________
Hermit Crab/Snail Shell
Once the snail has died or left its shell, the hermit crab will use the empty snail shell as a shelter. The crab’s hind quarters are extremely sensitive and
vulnerable, thus are protected by the hard shell of the snail.
Affect on Hermit Crab________
Affect on Snail Shell__________________
Relationship name___________________________________