This blog post was originally published October 3, 2020.
There are five main symbiotic relationships: commensalism, predation, parasitism, competition, and mutualism. Commensalism is the association between two organisms in which one benefits and the other derives neither benefit nor harm. Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator, kills and eats another organism, its prey. Parasitism refers to the relationship between two species of plants or animals in which one benefits at the expense of the other, sometimes without killing the host organism. Competition is a relationship between organisms that compete or strive for the same resources in the same place and at the same time. And Mutualism refers to mutually beneficial interactions between members of the same or different species.
The mutualistic relationship between crocodiles and the Egyptian Plover bird is one that I find particularly interesting. Crocodiles are carnivores that bite down on their prey with their massive jaws, crush it, and then swallow the prey whole. In the crushing process, animal pieces become lodged between crocodiles’ teeth. Crocodiles cannot remove the animal pieces that get stuck in their teeth, so they allow the Egyptian Plover to fly into their mouths and eat the food stuck in their teeth. This interaction between the crocodile and the Egyptian Plover mitigates the risk of infection for the crocodile caused by decaying flesh between its teeth, and the Egyptian Plover gets to dine in a safe environment free from becoming a meal for some other predator.
There are times when I feel like Blooming Impressions is an Egyptian Plover! No, not because we pick animal pieces from teeth, but because we are willing to provide services where they are needed, and in return the value we add is appreciated and we are not gobbled up.