A Mutualistic Relationship

A mutualistic relationship is when two organisms from different species collaborate and work together for mutual benefits.

The oxpecker/zebra love affair is a perfect example of this working relationship. The oxpecker, a small bird, catches a ride on the zebra’s back all the while feeding off ticks and parasites that live on the skin of the stripy mammal. If any predators approach the birds fly up into the air screeching, warning the zebras of imminent danger.

So in two ways they need each other, the oxpeckers get food and the zebras stay clean and have a constant pest control, but also being good look outs means not only do the zebras stand a better chance of survival, but by hanging around the oxpeckers have a constant source of food. Animals in a mutualistic relationship actually evolve together, they each form part of the other’s environment and as they have adapted to their environment they have used each other in such a way that they both benefit from the relationship.

 

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