A symbiotic relationship is one that exists between two (or more) different species. Several different categories of symbiotic relationship can exist:
- one species benefits but the other species suffers (also called Parasitism)
- one species benefits and the other is unaffected (also called Commensalism)
- both species benefit (also called Mutualism)
A good example of a symbiotic relationship (Mutualism) is that between leaf cutting ants and fungus within their fungus gardens. The ants cultivate the fungus by cutting leaves and carrying these leaf fragments to the fungus garden. The fungus then grows on the plant material. The ants also weed out any other types of fungus and provide the right conditions for the fungus to grow. The ants themselves only feed on fungus and do not eat the leaves. So, by providing appropriate conditions and plant material the fungus benefits from the action of the ants. The ants then benefit by eating the fungus.
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