Mutualism You scratch my back Ill scratch yours

In a mutualistic interaction, the presence of each species has a positive effect on the other. Bees and flowers, for example, can co-evolve mutualistically. Another example is the sea anemone and the clown fish. The clown fish hangs out (and even lays its eggs) around the poisonous tentacles of the anemone, but doesn't get stung. Why? Because of a combination of the clown fish's sting resistant mucus and the fact that the anemone doesn't mind it being there.

Every once in awhile the clown fish will leave the safety of the stinging tentacles and venture off into the surrounding waters where its bright colors make it visible to predatory fish. When the predatory fish attacks, the clown fish


For co-evolution to occur, both species have to be affected. For that reason, commensalism — in which the interaction affects only one of the partners, not both — isn't really an example of co-evolution, but it's still interesting.

In commensa/interactions, one species receives a benefit, while the other remains unaffected. Little organisms that hitch rides on bigger ones or use them as places to live are examples.

No evidence exists that a turtle cares whether a little bit of algae grows on it, but the turtle gives the algae a nice place to live. But if being on a turtle is an important part of algal ecology, there might be selection favoring algae that better stick to turtles.

heads back into the anemone, the predator pursues, and the anemone eats the predator, leaving the scraps for the clown fish! Clown fish that lure prey into the anemone tentacles get more food for themselves while anemones that provide a safe haven for clown fish get more food, too. The participants are in it for themselves, but the result is a beautiful mutualistic interaction.

¿jjjABEft Here's a key point to keep in mind: The connotation of the term mutualism and the fact that both of the co-evolving species benefit may lead you to think that the species intend to help each other out. That is absolutely not the case. Each organism does what it does for its own benefit. The fact that it's also benefiting the other organism is irrelevant.

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