What is meant by symbiosis with respect to the animal kingdom?« Back to Questions List

Animals too sometimes develop relationship with one another for some or other benefit. Such relationship among animals is called symbiosis. The relationship can prove beneficial for either of the two living organisms or only one of them. It is two different species ‘living together’. For instance even humans have a symbiotic relationship between themselves and plants or animals. Whether its access to food or protection, these animals in symbiotic relationship prove that co-operation is everywhere.

symbiosis 3    symbiosis 2

Not all relationships are the same. There are three types of relationship – mutualism, commensalism and parasitism depending on who all benefits. Mutualism is a kind of relationship where both the animals involved are benefitted. Commensalism is when only one animal is benefitted. The other gains little or none but is not harmed. Parasitism is a kind of relationship where one is benefitted and the other is harmed.


Mutualism may be limited. Examples for mutualism include ants and aphid or zebras and wildebeest. They may survive independently. But together their chances of detecting predators are high because both zebra and wildebeest have their own unique sense. Zebras possess better eye sight while wildebeest have got good hearing and sense of smell.
symbiosis 1
Very common example for commensal relationship is that of two types of fish – remoras and sharks. Remora that is long and striped attaches itself to a shark using a sucker on its head. When the shark makes a kill, remora detaches itself to feed on the scraps.
tapeworms, leeches and some kind of bugs exhibit parasitism. They feed on other organisms benefitting from them while the host becomes a victim of diseases or dies in this event.

Thus symbiosis is one of nature’s most fascinating phenomena of forming partnerships by different species.



How do legless animals move about?

How do animals change color?