Ecological interactions depict the network of influences that the activities of different species have on one another. Activities of single specie often affect many species. Cases of two-way interactions, where the activities of single specie directly affected another, exist.
Interactions between species are of different types. Mutualism focuses on interactions that are beneficial to both parties. Commensalism depicts a situation where only one of the two benefits. Interactions are said to be competitive when both are negatively affected. Parasitism, predation and herbivory they depict interactions that leave one party disadvantaged and the other smiling. This article focuses on mutualism.
A mutualism is beneficial to both species involved. Pollination clearly illustrates this form of interactions as the animal gets nectar while the plants gains gamete transfer.
Some mutualisms are not essential to reproduction or survival of the species involved. The fascinating mutualism between the Boran people in Africa and a bird called honey guide comes to mind. Honey hunting has been an occupation for the Boran people for over 20,000 years. They have come to discover by reason of this huge length of time that the honey guide makes their job less demanding. This bird usually helps them locate bee colonies. The people only need to take the bird’s flight as a compass bearing, studying the bird’s distance, its height of perch and its duration of disappearance from different trees, to find bee colonies. Without the assistance of the bird, locating one of their targets takes about 9 hours. The search only takes approximately 3 hours when the bird is involved. The bird is not left out of the bounties. Before the Borans could have access to the honey, they will have to drive out the bees using fire and smoke. The leave larvae and wax left behind in the hives by the people are feasted upon by the bird thus making the interactions beneficial to both parties.
However, activities of species that result in the other species being better or worse off are often selfishly inclined. It is often a case of the survival of the fittest and the elimination of the weak.
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