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Organisms and Their Relationships

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You will investigate mutualism, which is a type of symbiotic relationship. You will act as an Egyptian plover bird as you collect food from the mouth of a crocodile.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Explain that in a mutualism relationship, both species benefit from the close association.
  • Identify two species that form a pair in a mutualism relationship.
  • Explain that symbiosis is a relationship between two organisms that live together and includes mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.

Everything You'll Have Covered

In ecology, the term symbiosis describes the close relationship that exists between different species. Some of these relationships benefit both species (mutualism), sometimes one species benefits at the other's expense (parasitism), and in other cases, one species benefits and the other is unaffected (commensalism).

This tutorial focuses on mutualism, a win-win relationship that exists between species. Examples include the Egyptian plover bird and the crocodile, fungi and algae (in lichens), and the termite and the protozoan that aids in digesting cellulose.

When ecologists study relationships to see if they are mutualistic, they will sometimes separate the species to see the effect. For example, with acacia trees, ecologists have fumigated the trees to kill all the ants, and then they observe the effects on the tree. From studies like this, they were able to determine that the ants benefit the trees.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 25 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should have a basic understanding of graphs, hypothesis, and species.
Course Biology
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary algae, Egyptian plover, fungi