Commensalism, i beg your pardon literally method "to eat at the same table" (thanks, Latin!), is one kind of symbiosis, a relationship between two biology of different species. In a commensal relationship, one organism benefits while the other is usually unaffected.

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Commensalism instances

That makes commensalism various from mutualism, in i beg your pardon both organisms benefit; parasitism, in which one organism services while the other is harmed; and amensalism ("no-table-ism"), in i beg your pardon one biology is unaffected and also the various other is harmed.

Commensalism is among the most common relationships in nature, and we"ve gathered too many of instances of commensalism to highlight it in action.

Commensalism in Nature

Everything in nature is interconnected in one means or another. And many of these relationships room commensalistic in nature.


While some barnacles space parasitic and also others root on nonliving surfaces choose rocks, many species are commensal. In fact, many types of barnacles are evolved specifically to it is in commensal through particular types of animals, such as sea turtles.


Birds that live in the hollows the trees space commensal. Your presence normally does no harm to the tree, yet the tree offers the bird v shelter and protection.


While bromeliads themselves can be commensal or parasitic, the pools the water they collect room a critical environment because that dozens that commensal species, indigenous insects to crabs to salamanders. Most of these types do the bromeliad no harm, but benefit from the shelter and also water noted by the plant.

Cattle Egrets

These bird live close to cattle because when the livestock graze, their motions stir up insects. Unequal oxpeckers, lock don"t communicate in cleaning symbiosis, picking helminth off the livestock they follow. Cattle egrets just scoop up the insects disturbed by the passage of the bigger animal. The birds gain a meal and the livestock are unbothered, making for a great example of commensalism in action.

Epiphytic Plants

Epiphytic plants space plants that flourish on a support, often another plant, to reach air, water and also sunlight. Some space parasites, choose the accurately named strangler fig. Others, including species of orchid and fern, don"t influence the plant they"re well balanced on.

Gila Woodpeckers and tiny Animals

The Gila woodpecker itself isn"t a commensal organism, due to the fact that it hacks holes in Saguaro cacti to live. Come state the obvious, the cactus would fairly they not do that. But once the woodpecker abandons the hole and it heals over, little mammals and also birds regularly move in, getting shelter and doing the cactus no further harm. That"s a commensal relationship.


These tiny fish live ~ above sea animals, often an altering color to blend in. The visibility of a goby uses no advantage to that host, but it gains security and accessibility to food.

Golden Jackals

Golden jackals that are no longer in a pack will follow tigers in order to feed on the stays of your kills. The tigers get no advantage nor receive any harm from the presence of the gold jackals, but the latter obtain to enjoy a meal.

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are an example of metabiosis, a form of commensalism in which one organism create an environment suitable for another. This crabs live within the shells the dead snails. Clear the snail is unaffected, and the crab benefit shelter.


Mites may be the can be fried commensals. These tiny arachnids live on the bodies or in the colonies of thousands of types (including humans!). While some mites room parasitic, many are far too tiny and passive come have any type of effect. Several varieties of commensal mites have developed specifically come live top top humans, especially Demodex folliculorum, which is probably on your skin appropriate now! You"re welcome.


These small arachnids (they max out at about fifty percent an customs long) look choose scorpions there is no stings. They exercise a type of commensalism dubbed phoresy, in i beg your pardon an organism uses one more for transportation.

Pseudoscorpions hitch rides under the soup covers of large beetles or in the fur of mammals. As lengthy as the pseudoscorpion is riding a larger animal, it"s comparatively for sure from predators, and it it s okay the possibility to drop turn off in a more lucrative place. Part pseudoscorpions perform snag parasites off your hosts, making castle mutualistic, however most are just there for the ride.


In the desert, plant seedlings (and quite much every little thing else) have the right to struggle to uncover enough water to survive. That"s wherein nurse tree come in. Nurse plants develop shade and shelter, protecting seedlings from both predators and the sun. Nurse plants acquire no details benefit indigenous the visibility of the seedlings, but the seedling would die there is no them.

Other forms of Relationships

Commensalism isn"t the only way different species relate to one another. As detailed in the introduction, there are three other major categories the interspecies interaction.


Amensalist relationships room relationships where one party is unaffected and also the various other suffers. These can be together minor together grass being crushed under one animal"s foot, or as complicated and essential as mold secreting penicillin, destroying bacteria, and incidentally inventing modern antibiotics. The mold doesn"t treatment one means or the other, however it"s negative news for the bacteria.


Got a cat? Dog? moustache dragon? If so, you have actually mutualism. Mutualism explains relationships wherein both varieties benefit. Human housepets, clownfish in sea anemones, and birds choose scraps from the teeth of alligators space all mutualistic relationships. Your cat or dog or lizard gets food and also a heat place come snooze, and you gain companionship.


If you"ve ever before been bitten by a mosquito or had to shoo a paris from your eye, you"ve met parasites. Parasitism is when one species in a connection benefits and also the various other is harmed. Alongside the mosquito, especially the pregnant lady mosquito due to the fact that those are the just ones the bite, fleas top top dogs, horseflies on, well, horses, and leeches ~ above basically everything are every parasites.

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All Creatures great and Small

These instances of commensalism in activity detail the tremendous diversity of relationships in nature. The diversity represents the complex and beautiful procedures that journey the natural world.