When two species benefit mutually from a relationship it is called a symbiotic relationship. Many plants and animals in the rainforest partake in symbiosis. An example is a particular species of caterpillar and ant. The caterpillar produces juices on its back containing “sweet chemicals.” The ants eat this juice from the caterpillar, and in return defend it. The ants will fight for the caterpillar if necessary, and will even carry it home on their backs.
The sea anemone and the clownfish have a symbiotic relationship. The sea anemone provides protection, shelter and food for the clownfish. While the clownfish cleans the anemone, as well as chases polyp-eating fish and lures prey.
Bees and flowers! Bees pollinate flowers, and they in turn get nectar for food. Both species benefit from this relationship. Larger African mammals, such as zebras, and oxpeckers share a relationship that has come to some debate recently. It used to be believed that the bird ate parasites from an animal’s back. Recent studies show the oxpecker could also be keeping open sores to feed on the blood. This action would make the relationship a semi-parasitic one.
The Egyptian Plover feeds on the leftovers stuck between the teeth of the Nile Crocodile. The crocodile will open its mouth and allow the plover to hop inside:
But the plover is save. The crocodile lets the plover feed because the cleaning keeps its teeth healthy, and the plover gets a free meal!
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