Species Interactions

Species interactions is an ecological community is defined as a group of actually or
potentially interacting species living in the same place. A community is bound together by the
network of influences that species have on one another.
Terms that explicitly indicate the quality of benefit or harm in terms of fitness
experienced by participants in an interaction are listed in the chart. There are six possible
combinations, ranging from mutually beneficial through neutral to mutually harmful interactions.
The level of benefit or harm is continuous and not discrete, so a particular interaction may have a
range from trivially harmful through to deadly, for example. It is important to note that these
interactions are not always static. In many cases, two species will interact differently under
different conditions. This is particularly true in, but not limited to, cases where species have
multiple, drastically different life stages.
1. Neutralism
Neutralism describes the relationship between two species that interact but do not affect
each other. It describes interactions where the health of one species has absolutely no effect
whatsoever on that of the other. Examples of true neutralism are virtually impossible to prove.
When dealing with the complex networks of interactions presented by ecosystems, one cannot
assert positively that there is absolutely no competition between or benefit to either species.
However, the term is often used to describe situations where interactions are negligible or
2. Commensalism
Commensalism is an ecological relationship, in which one species benefits from an
association with another organism, while the other organism receives no benefit, but is not
harmed. Commensalism occurs in both the plant and animal kingdoms, and is also prevalent
among bacterial species.
A fundamental criticism of the concept of commensalism is the inherent difficulty of
proving that the non-beneficiary organism in the relationship is truly without impact. The very
evolution of the commensal relationship suggests the possibility that the supposed non-

whereby one species may re-use the burrow of another. not from the host tree or shrub. the purity of the nobenefit concept is most readily accepted in the commensalism type of metabiosis. Mutualism Mutualism is a relationship where both organisms benefit. The epiphyte draws its nutrients from the atmosphere. Example: Epiphytes are a group of plant species that grow upon certain woody plants. 3. thus the epiphyte engages in no deleterious act with the woody substrate plant. and thereby create harm or parasitism. On the other hand. Interspecific competition . Lichen is made up of a fungus that provides a home to an algae that provides food through photosynthesis to the fungus. this form of commensalism can be argued to deprive the original nest or burrow builder with reduced burrow sites for the hosting species. 4.beneficiary may be receiving some subtle marginal advantage. however. but generally there is little data to support benefits or harm to the host plant. One could argue that the epiphyte may actually protect the bark of some species. One of the best examples in the arctic is lichen.

For plants with high light requirements. Laboratory production of these antibiotics can treat bacterial diseases in humans. Certain fungal species produce and secrete molecules called antibiotics. while the out competed species move elsewhere or become extinct. This principle is useful in agriculture.Interspecific competition involves two or more different species trying to use the same resources. If. . Competition in nature leads to certain species dominating an environment and evolving to adapt to it. the species cannot tolerate too much sun. on the other hand. Different areas or communities favor different growth characteristics. a taller-growing plant (or one with more or broader leaves) will have a competitive advantage if its leaves receive more direct sunlight than competitors. Plant competition can be used to fight the growth of weeds and is useful in understanding which plants are compatible. Competition is also useful in medical microbiological research. Antibiotics give these fungi an edge in their competition against bacteria. All green plants depend on photosynthesis to derive the energy and carbon they need. Humans are able to utilize the results of competition among species for their own benefit. which kill bacteria. a shorter-growing species that can benefit from sheltering shadows of larger plants nearby will have the competitive advantage over other shade-loving plants. Certain plant species (such as sunflowers and peach trees) release chemicals into the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants that might otherwise compete with them.

5. the plant benefits and the tree loses valuable nutrients to the plant with nothing in return. pitcher plant. Many soils are deficient in nitrogen so carnivorous plants supplement their mineral nutrition by digesting animals. This is an example of the type of connections that need to be made as I discussed on the homepage necessary for great test scores. Other plants however are purely parasitic in their quest for nutrients such as the mistletoe and organ pipe. This is like how a flea takes blood filled with nutrients from a mammal but has no benefit given to the mammal in return. and sundew. Bogs are common places for these animals as the soil is poor in nitrogen. . This way of gathering nutrients is parasitic. The organ pipe have evolved to take all of its nutrients from trees. Predation. Examples of plants that eat insects are the Venus flytrap. This is similar to any heterotrophe that goes and finds food to eat to nourish itself. parasitism Plants that lack nutrients don't live as healthy as plants that are well nourished. it possesses no chlorophyll.