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ZingPath: Organisms and Their Relationships

Commensalism

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Organisms and Their Relationships

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Commensalism

Biology

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You will explore commensalism and conduct an experiment to observe the interactions between two species.

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Now You Know

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

  • Predict the outcome in a commensalism relationship if one of the species is removed.
  • Explain that in commensalism, one organism benefits while the other is not affected.
  • Recognize commensalism relationships between different species

Everything You'll Have Covered

The term symbiosis describes a relationship between two different species. This concept is broken down further into three different types: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism. Mutualism describes a relationship where both species benefit from each other. Commensalism states that one species benefits while the other seems to be unaffected. Lastly, parasitism describes one species benefiting while the other is harmed.

Thistutorial focuses on commensalism: a relationship where one species relies heavily on the other for its survival. The remora fish and shark are an example commonly used to portray commensalism. As the shark lives within its natural environment, the remoras stay close to this dangerous creature and feed on the remains that it leaves behind. Through environmental experiments, ecologists have found that the shark's life does not seem to be affected by the presence of the remora fish. In contrast, the remora greatly benefits from the food remains that the shark provides as well as the added bonus of protection from other predators.

Through scientific exploration, it has become clear that without the benefits of symbiosis, some species would be in grave danger of extinction if these relationships did not exist.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Students should be familiar with mutualism between organisms in an ecosystem and with the prey-predator relationship.
Course Biology
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary commensalism, ecosystem, mutualism, organism