Many species of wildlife team up, forming symbiotic relationships that like the rhinoceros rely on partners like the oxpecker to clean ticks off. The adorable oxpecker, perched on the back of a rhinoceros or zebra, However, the relationship isn't one of total simplicity: though they rid animals of the two species believed they were a perfect example of mutualistic. Some of these relationships benefit both the rhino and its symbiotic partner Oxpecker and Rhino: A Highly Visible Example of Symbiosis.
Relationships between species that do not benefit both members, but do not harm either one, are commensal. When one species harms the other, the symbiosis is parasitic. Rhinoceroses experience notable examples of both mutualistic and parasitic relationships.
Oxpeckers and Rhinoceros - Syn Biosis
Their digestion depends on microflora in the gut, for example. Also, they attract insect parasites, which in turn attract birds who eat the insects.
The rhinoceros enjoys relief from the insects, while the birds enjoy a meal, but the relationships are not always so clear-cut. Mutualistic Relationships in a Rhino's Gut Rhinoceroses are ungulates: They eat tough plant matter but are not able to digest the cellulose their food contains. They rely on microflora that are able to digest this material, releasing nutrients like fatty acids that the host animal can absorb and use for energy — an example of mutualism.
- Rhinos & the Oxpecker Bird
The hosts don't ruminate like cattle; the microflora work in the host's hindgut. By Martha Adams Photos.
Those Little Birds On The Backs Of Rhinos Actually Drink Blood
The two animals are not entirely equal partners, with the relationship tipped in favor of the bird. Symbiosis Among the several forms of symbiosis is mutualism, in which two or more organisms live or function together to benefit each other.
One aspect of mutualism is the extent of involvement -- one partner may be completely dependent on the relationship obligatewhile the other benefits from the relationship but can survive without it facultative. Adding the word "cleaning" to mutualism indicates that one partner removes external parasites from the other. Kifaru The rhino "kifaru" in Swahili grazes on the African savanna and shelters in dense thickets of thorny brush. Ticks lurk in both spots, waiting to fling themselves onto a host.
Kifaru's skin is thick, but very sensitive and well supplied with blood just under the surface, so it bleeds easily. Ticks and other skin parasites make Kifaru itch horribly, so he spends a lot of time and energy scratching himself on rocks and trees, trying to get rid of them.
Symbiotic Relationships for Rhinos | Sciencing
This is where the oxpecker, or tickbird, can be a big help. Kifaru is also very shortsighted and has a hard time seeing enemies if they approach, but the oxpecker on Kifaru's back can, and provides some warning by hissing and screaming.Indian rhino coexisting with birds, as part of their symbiotic relationship
Because the rhino can survive without the tickbird, Kifaru is a facultative partner in this mutualistic relationship.