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  • A species is a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing an offspring.
  • Organisms of a species interact with other organisms, both intra- and inter-species, in a variety of ways.

There are five common types of interaction among species.

  • Competition
  • Predation
  • Parasitism
  • Mutualism
  • Commensalism


  • Competition is described as a relationship in which different individuals attempt to use the same limited resource.
  • Competition harms the individuals of the spiecies. Competition can also occur within a population, since all the members require the same resources.
  • Competition can occur both directly and indirectly.
  • For example, indirect competition can occur between two birds that feed on the same insect; however, one species may eat at day, and the other at night.
  • Direct competition occurs between deer and goat in grassland for the same food sources and territory.


  • This type of interaction occurs when one organism, the ‘predator’ feeds upon another organism, known as ‘prey’.
  • In this interaction, one organism benefits, while the other organism is harmed.
  • Predation is a complex web to understand, for, one predator can be the prey to another species.


  • The relationship between the parasite and the host is known as parasitism.
  • Parasitism is similar to predation, in that it does cause harm to its host, but it does not necessarily ‘kill’ its host.
  • Some common parasites are ticks, fleas, tapeworms and leeches.


  • Some species tend to rely on one another for survival, and there are times when neither of the organisms can survive without the other.
  • This close relationship between two species in which each species provides a benefit to the other is known as mutualism.
  • For example, in the human body, intestinal bacteria use the warm, nutrient-rich walls of the intestine and help regulate our digestive tract by breaking down foods we cannot digest on our own.


  • Commensalism is the relationship between two species in which one speciess benefits, while the other species involved in the relationship is not affected.
  • For example, vultures follow closely behind tigers in India, to feed on the tiger’s kills.
  • Another type of relationship, opposite to commensalism is amensalism.
  • Amensalism is any relationship between organisms of different spiecies in which one organism is inhibited or destroyed, while the other organism remains unaffected.
  • A simple example is the shading out of certain plants under tall trees. The trees reduce the available sunshine at ground level, and numerous plants cannot find adequate light in the shade.
  • Antibiosis is a specific type of amensalism in which one organism produces a metabolite that is toxic to other organisms.
  • A common example of amensalism is the release of chemical toxins by plants that can inhibit the growth of other plant species.
  • The interactions among many species involve a relationship in which two organisms live in close association with one another, which is also known as symbiosis.
  • In order for an interaction to be labelled as an example of symbiosis, at least one organism must be benefitted (such as in predation, commensalism and mutualism).


Environment & Biodiversity

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