World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Biological interaction

Article Id: WHEBN0000240244
Reproduction Date:

Title: Biological interaction  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Community (ecology), Ecological facilitation, Ecological network, Symbiosis, Myrmecochory
Collection: Biological Interactions
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Biological interaction

Biological interactions are the effects that the

  • Snow, B.K. & Snow, D.W. (1988). Birds and berries: a study of an ecological interaction. Poyser, London ISBN 0-85661-049-6

Further reading

  1. ^ Elton, C.S. 1968 reprint. Animal ecology. Great Britain: William Clowes and Sons Ltd.
  2. ^ Nunn, Charles L.; Ezenwa, Vanessa O.; Arnold, Christian; Koenig, Walter D. (2011). "Mutualism or parasitism? phylogenetic approach to characterize the oxpecker-ungulate relationship". Evolution 65 (5): 1297–1304.  
  3. ^ Wootton, JT; Emmerson, M (2005). "Measurement of Interaction Strength in Nature". Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 36: 419–44.  
  4. ^ Sahney, S., Benton, M.J. and Ferry, P.A. (2010). "Links between global taxonomic diversity, ecological diversity and the expansion of vertebrates on land" (PDF). Biology Letters 6 (4): 544–547.  
  5. ^ Willey, Joanne M.; Sherwood, Linda M.; Woolverton, Cristopher J. (2013). Prescott's Microbiology (9th ed.). pp. 713–38.  
  6. ^ Gómez, José M.; González-Megías, Adela (2002). "Asymmetrical interactions between ungulates and phytophagous insects: Being different matters". Ecology 83 (1): 203–11.  
  7. ^ (Morris et al., 2013)
  8. ^ Lidicker W. Z. (1979). "A Clarification of Interactions in Ecological Systems". BioScience 29: 475–477.  
  9. ^ a b Stachowicz, J. J. 2001. Mutualism, facilitation, and the structure of ecological communities. BioScience '51': 235-246.
  10. ^ Boucher, D. H., S. James, and K. H. Keeler. 1982. The ecology of mutualism. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 13: 315-347.
  11. ^ Callaway, R. M. 1995. Positive interactions among plants (Interpreting botanical progress). The Botanical Review 61: 306-349.
  12. ^ Bruno, J. F., J. J. Stachowicz, and M. D. Bertness. 2003. Inclusion of facilitation into ecological theory. TREE 18: 119-125.
  13. ^ Tirado, R. and F. I. Pugnaire. 2005. Community structure and positive interactions in constraining environments. OIKOS 111: 437-444.
  14. ^ a b Begon, M., J.L. Harper and C.R. Townsend. 1996. Ecology: individuals, populations, and communities, Third Edition. Blackwell Science Ltd., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
  15. ^ Surindar Paracer and Vernon Ahmadjian, "Symbiosis: An Introduction to Biological Associations" Oxford University Press. 2nd Ed. 2000. ISBN 0-19-511806-5


See also

According to the competitive exclusion principle, species less suited to compete for resources should either adapt or die out. According to evolutionary theory, this competition within and between species for resources plays a critical role in natural selection.

Competition between species at the same trophic level of an ecosystem, who have common predators, increases drastically if the frequency of the common predator in the community is decreased by a large margin. The magnitude of competition therefore depends on many factors in the same ecosystem.

Interspecific competition is normally not as fierce as intraspecific competition, unless in case of a sudden drastic change. However, it is the most conspicuous competition in grasslands, where, for example, cheetahs and hyenas are often killed by lion prides. Competition is not always a straightforward, direct interaction either, and can occur in both a direct and indirect fashion.

. interspecific competition, while competition between individuals of different species is known as intraspecific competition structure. Competition among members of the same species is known as community factors that affect abiotic Competition is one of many interacting biotic and [14] Competition can be defined as an interaction between

Male-male interference competition in red deer.


In either case, symbiosis is much more common in the living world and much more important than is generally assumed. Almost every organism has many internal parasites. A large percentage of fix carbon from the air, and Mycorrhyzal fungi that help in extracting minerals from the ground. The evolution of all eukaryotes (plants, animals, fungi, protists) is believed to have resulted from a symbiosis between various sorts of bacteria: endosymbiotic theory.

It can be used to describe relationships where one organism lives on or in another, or it can be used to describe cases where organisms are related by mutual stereotypic behaviors. [15] The term symbiosis (

Common clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in their Ritteri sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica) home. Both the fish and anemone benefit from this relationship, a case of mutualistic symbiosis and is Marlin and Nemo.


Mutualism is an interaction between two or more species, where species derive a mutual benefit, for example an increased carrying capacity. Similar interactions within a species are known as co-operation. Mutualism may be classified in terms of the closeness of association, the closest being symbiosis, which is often confused with mutualism. One or both species involved in the interaction may be obligate, meaning they cannot survive in the short or long term without the other species. Though mutualism has historically received less attention than other interactions such as predation,[14] it is very important subject in ecology. Examples include cleaner fish, pollination and seed dispersal, gut flora, Müllerian mimicry and nitrogen fixation by bacteria in the root nodules of legumes.

Pollination illustrates mutualism between flowering plants and their animal pollinators.


Commensalism benefits one organism and the other organism is neither benefited nor harmed. It occurs when one organism takes benefits by interacting with another organism by which the host organism is not affected. A good example is a remora living with a shark. Remoras eat leftover food from the shark. The shark is not affected in the process, as remoras eat only leftover food of the shark, which does not deplete the shark's resources.


The following two interactions can be classed as facilitative. Facilitation describes species interactions that benefit at least one of the participants and cause no harm to either.[9] Facilitations can be categorized as mutualisms, in which both species benefit, or commensalisms, in which one species benefits and the other is unaffected. Much of classic ecological theory (e.g., natural selection, niche separation, metapopulation dynamics) has focused on negative interactions such as predation and competition, but positive interactions (facilitation) are receiving increasing focus in ecological research.[9][10][11][12][13]

Ecological facilitation

Synnecrosis is a particular case in which the interaction is so mutually detrimental that it results in death, as in the case of some parasitic relationships. It is a rare and necessarily short-lived condition as evolution selects against it. The term is seldom used.[8]

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 and most ecologists (as well as textbooks) would agree that this concept does not exist.[7] 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 insignificant.


In antagonistic interactions, one species benefits at the expense of another. Predation is an interaction between organisms in which one organism captures Batesian mimicry is also an antagonistic interaction, where one species has evolved to mimic another, to the advantage of the copying species but to the detriment of the species being mimicked.

This is not a bee, but a syrphid fly, a Batesian mimic.


Ammensalism is an interaction where an organism inflicts harm to another organism without any costs or benefits received by the other.[5] A clear case of ammensalism is where sheep or cattle trample grass. Whilst the presence of the grass causes negligible detrimental effects to the animal's hoof, the grass suffers from being crushed. Ammensalism is often used to describe strongly asymmetrical competitive interactions, such as has been observed between the Spanish ibex and weevils of the genus Timarcha which feed upon the same type of shrub. Whilst the presence of the weevil has almost no influence on food availability, the presence of ibex has an enormous detrimental effect on weevil numbers, as they consume significant quantities of plant matter and incidentally ingest the weevils upon it.[6]


Competition is a mutually detrimental interaction between individuals, populations or species, but rarely between clades.[4]


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.

Interactions categorized by effect


  • Interactions categorized by effect 1
    • Competition 1.1
    • Amensalism 1.2
    • Antagonism 1.3
    • Neutralism 1.4
    • Ecological facilitation 1.5
      • Commensalism 1.5.1
      • Mutualism 1.5.2
    • Symbiosis 1.6
    • Competition 1.7
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4

In ecology, biological interactions can involve individuals of the same species (intraspecific interactions) or individuals of different species (interspecific interactions). These can be further classified by either the mechanism of the interaction or the strength, duration and direction of their effects.[3] Species may interact once in a generation (e.g. pollination) or live completely within another (e.g. endosymbiosis). Effects range from consumption of another individual (predation, herbivory, or cannibalism), to mutual benefit (mutualism). Interactions need not be direct; individuals may affect each other indirectly through intermediaries such as shared resources or common enemies.

The mutualism interaction between the red-billed oxpecker and the giraffe.[2]
The black walnut secretes a chemical from its roots that harms neighboring plants, an example of antagonism.


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.