What Are Some Examples of Mutualism Between Animals?

Mutualism refers to an ecological interaction involving two species from which both benefit. These relationships can take place within one species or between different species. Mutualism can also occur with individuals in one society or between two societies. Examples of mutualism between animals include oxpeckers and zebras or rhinos, digestive bacteria and humans, protozoa and termites, and sea anemones and clownfish.

In the mutualistic relationship between oxpeckers and zebras, the bird lives on the zebra, where it feeds on the bugs and parasites on the skin. The oxpecker benefits by getting food, and the zebra gains from pest removal. In case of danger, the oxpeckers fly upward while screaming a warning of the looming danger.

The bacteria found in humans’ digestive tracts help in food digestion. The “good” bacteria feed on the foods that cannot be completely digested by humans. By feeding on this food, the bacteria stay alive. The human being, on the other hand, benefits from the completion of the digestive process.

The protozoa and termite relationship is almost similar to that of bacteria and humans. Protozoa assist termites in digesting the food they eat. Protozoa survive by feeding on this food, and termites benefit by staying alive.

Clownfish often live among sea anemones’ tentacles. Clownfish are safe with the sea anemone, which uses its tentacles to sting all the other fish. Clownfish protect sea anemones from predators such as the butterfly fish.