Epiphyte and tree commensalism relationship

Epiphytes: An ecosystem contained within an ecosystem FINAL

epiphyte and tree commensalism relationship

An example of a beneficial, plant-plant relationship familiar to many gardeners is For example, mosses can be epiphytic, growing harmlessly on tree trunks. About three quarters of all orchid species are epiphytes, which is a term that Orchids that grow on a host tree have a special kind of symbiotic relationship with . The symbiotic relationship that occurs between an orchid and a tree would be classified as commensalism. Most orchids are epiphytes, which mean that that.

Orchid epiphytes have adapted to have hundreds of thousands of seeds that measure in microns that are able to float in the air over long distances and find a landing spot in another tree.

junior science-ecosystems- living together

Micro-ecosystems Epiphytes make up a huge part of the biodiversity in a rainforest. Not only do epiphytes account for a large portion of foliage in rainforest, they also support other plants and organisms. Every epiphyte is a microhabitat, in which there can be a food web of arthropods and other animals. Non-vascular epiphytes such as bryophytes, liverworts, and mosses, can be a home for many arthropods.

Young forests will accumulate dense coverings of these epiphytes on the bark and on the branches. In old growth forests, epiphytic mats are formed from years of growth and the accumulation of particles and dead tissue. These mats tend to contain insects including mites, springtails, beetles, ants, moth larvae, thrips, bark lice, wasps, and spiders.

The insects thrive while living in the epiphytes in the rain forest canopy, but when they die they help to supply the epiphytes with nutrients and minerals Yanoviak An example of a vascular epiphyte that can host a microhabitat is a tank bromeliad. Tank bromeliads have stiff upturned leaves that create a cup that collects and holds water. Some tank bromeliads have been found to hold up to two gallons of water when completely full in which the plant can use as a water supply and a source of nutrients.

Being able to collect water is important to the plant, but the small pool of water is also important to many unique species that depend on the bromeliad. Frogs, mosquitoes, flat worms, insects, snails, salamanders, and crabs can all be found inside the water of a tank bromeliad.

Some poison dart frogs use the plant to raise their young due to pooled water and supply of insects and larvae. The female frog lays her eggs on the forest floor, and when the eggs hatch she carries the tadpoles up to the epiphyte. Epiphytes are also a home to ants, including the stinging ant. Certain Bromeliad epiphytes contain chambers that are connected by holes and tunnels. The chambers give a place for the stinging ants to live, store food, and reproduce. Not only do the ants benefit from the situation, but the bromeliad benefits too.

Commensalism - Plants, Relationship, Species, and Gain - JRank Articles

The ants protect the plant from insects and animals that would eat the leaves and also supply the plant with nutrients. Wastes from the ant colony decay and the bromeliad is able to absorb the nutrients so that it can live and grow in the canopy. Another group of animals that are greatly benefited by epiphytes are birds because of the many resources that epiphytes have to offer.

Resources that epiphytes provide are flowers, nectar, fruits, insects, water, and material to use to build nests. It was found that over species of birds use epiphytes to obtain food and nutrients. Frugivores, insectivores, and nectarivores all rely on epiphytes for food along with many species of birds that use epiphytes for nesting. The most common birds that use epiphytes are tanagers Thraupidae and hummingbirds Trochilidae.

  • Plant-plant relationships
  • Examples of Commensalism for a Better Understanding of the Concept

Become a Contributor Examples of Commensalism for a Better Understanding of the Concept Commensalism being a type of symbiotic relationship between organisms, other types of symbiotic relationships include mutualism, in which both the organisms involved benefit from each other, and parasitism, where one of the organisms is benefited, while the other is harmed.

ScienceStruck Staff Last Updated: Mar 22, Many instances of commensalism are surrounded by controversies, as there is always a possibility that the commensal host is also being benefited or harmed in some or the other 'not-yet-known' ways.

However, here are some of the widely accepted examples of commensalism found in nature.

epiphyte and tree commensalism relationship

Examples of Commensalism Cattle Egrets and Livestock One of the popular examples of commensalism is the relationship between cattle egrets and livestock. The cattle egret is a common species of heron that is found in most regions of the world, and is mostly seen moving along with herds of cattle. This bird moves about in the pastures, and follows livestock such as cattle and horses.

The cattle egret eats up the insects hiding under vegetation close to the grounds, which get stirred up when the cattle walk through them. Orchids Growing on Branches of Trees Orchids belong to a family of flowering plants that form a commensal relationship with the trees. It is a well-known epiphytic plant that grows on the branches or trunks of other trees. Orchids are usually found in dense tropical forests.

They form their base of attachment on the branches of trees, and benefit by getting adequate sunlight and nutrition that flows down the branches.

The orchids do not grow to a large size, and thus the host tree is not harmed in any way. Remora Fish and Sharks The remora, also called suckerfish, belongs to a family of ray-finned fish.

It is a small fish growing up to a size of 1 to 3 feet. The remora forms a special relationship with sharks and other sea organisms like whales and turtles. It has special suckers attached to its fins. It attaches itself to the bodies of sharks, and uses the shark for transportation as well as protection from its predators. If the leaves are not close enough to be bound, ants form ant chains to pull the leaves close together.

epiphyte and tree commensalism relationship

Click to see a more detailed image Some Australian native trees produce very exotic flowers, as shown on the right the flower of the Flame tree, with nectar to entice a beneficial relationship with particular insects. Click to see a detailed image There are three different types of symbiotic relationships, these include: An example of mutualism is the relationship between bees and flowering plants.

Both organisms benefit in the relationship, the bee derives nectar and pollen from the plant while the plant becomes cross fertilised by the bees. On the right is a picture of an Australian native bee, known as the blue banded bee Amegilla cingulata Click to see a detailed image.

The relationship between the barnacles and the whale is an example of commensalism, where the barnacles benefit by being transported to food rich regions of the ocean while the whale is not harmed in any way in this relationship. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants in a non-parasitic relationship.


Although an epiphyte derives its moisture and nutrients independently of its host it benefits by been high above the ground out of reach of herbivores and where there is more sunlight.

The host plant does not benefit nor is it harmed. This relationship also is an example of commensalism. Another type of relationship is known as a predator-prey relationship. Simply put, a predator is an organism that eats another organism. The organism being eaten is the prey while the organism eating the other is the predator.