Interactions in the Ecosystem
Ecosystem: is a community of living organisms in conjunction with non-living thing components, interacting as a system.
Various kinds of feeding relationships exist between organisms in a community. These feeding relationships or interactions may be harmful, beneficial, or neutral to each of the organisms in a community.
This is an association or relationship in which one organism, called the parasite, lives in or on another organism, called the host, where nourishment is derived. In this case, the parasite is gaining and the host is losing. Examples include, man and tapeworm, man and roundworm, tapeworm and pig, ticks and cattle, fleas and birds, lice and man, etc.
This is an association between two organisms in which both of them benefit, each member is called a symbiont. Examples are algae and fungi (lichen), flowering plants and insects, cattle and tick birds, bacteria in the root of plants.
Let us take a look at the symbiotic relationship of the water buffalo and oxpecker. Large mammals like the water buffalo are prone to ticks, which feed on their blood and can spread diseases and cause anemia. Luckily for the water buffalo, the oxpecker feeds on ticks.
By eating the ticks from the hide of the water buffalo, the oxpecker gets a free meal, and the water buffalo gets cleaned of parasites.
This is a feeding association between living organisms (saprophytes) and dead remains of once-living organisms. Examples of saprophytes include fungi, for example, mushrooms and mould, as well as bacteria. Saprophytes also help in the decay of organisms.
This is the association between two organisms where one partner (the commensal) benefits while the other (the host) is unaffected. Examples include, remora (shark sucker) and the shark, ferns (epiphyte) on trunks of palm trees.
The remoras use a type of built-in suction to stick to a shark’s skin and hitch a ride. When the shark makes a kill, the remora eats the scraps. The shark does not attack the remora. The remora benefits greatly from this commensal relationship, by getting a free meal and protection.
This is the kind of association in which an organism, called a predator, hunts and kills another one, called prey, for food. Examples of predators and prey include cats and rats, lions and antelopes, leopards and impalas, etc.