The Jungle Store: The Symbiotic Relationship Of The Oxpecker & Its Host
The oxpeckers are two species of birds -- the red-billed oxpecker and the yellow-billed oxpecker -- that live in sub-Saharan Africa. The oxpeckers perform a symbiotic relationship with the large, hoofed mammals of the area: giraffes, antelope, zebra, Cape buffalo and rhinoceroses. The Symbiotic Relationship Of The Oxpecker & Its Host Oxpeckers hitch a ride on zebras, giraffes, water buffalo, antelope and numerous. Oxpeckers have a symbiotic relationship with oxen, antelopes, and the Red- Billed Oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus) is from east Africa.
They rely on microflora that are able to digest this material, releasing nutrients like fatty acids that the host animal can absorb and use for energy — an example of mutualism.
The hosts don't ruminate like cattle; the microflora work in the host's hindgut. Studies of white rhino dung show bacteria of the phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes dominating the microflora living in the rhino gut, along with many other unclassified bacteria. A Symbiotic, but Parasitic, Relationship in a Rhino's Gut The rhinoceros bot fly Gyrostigma rhinocerontis lives exclusively in the digestive tracts of both white and black rhinoceroses.
The adults, which are the largest flies in Africa, lay their eggs on the skin of rhinos, and the larvae burrow into the rhino's stomach, where they attach and live through larval stages called "instars. Then they have only a few days to find another rhinoceros host. This symbiotic relationship has no benefit to the rhino hosts, while the flies are "obligate parasites," which means they're dependent on the rhinos — they can't complete their life cycle without them.
A Highly Visible Example of Symbiosis Oxpecker birds Buphagus erythrorhynchusalso called tickbirds, specialize in riding on large African animals, including rhinos and zebras, feeding on external parasites like the bot-fly larvae and ticks.
The International Rhino Foundation describes how mynah birds serve the same role on rhinos in India.
The oxpeckers feast on the parasites they find, and they also lend the favor of raising a loud warning when a potential predator approaches. Oxpeckers also will hiss when they become alarmed, and can alert their host --who is a prey mammal-- to potential danger.
Oxpeckers and their symbiotic relationships | SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
Oxpecker Benefits The oxpecker will spend his entire life on his hosts, except for nesting, which occurs in cavities of trees. In this relationship, the part of the oxpecker is obligate; he is dependent upon the host as a source of food. In addition to the meals he receives every day, the oxpecker also is protected from many predators while on the relative safety of the host.
Oxpeckers consume dandruff and scar tissue, and have been known to open up wounds on their host to eat the blood and scabs, potentially slowing the healing process. Mutualism There are various types of symbiotic relationships.
- Oxpeckers and their symbiotic relationships
Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship that benefits both organisms. In the case of the relationship between the oxpecker and his bison-like hosts, the oxpecker benefits from having a steady supply of food, while the host benefits from having parasites cleaned from her body. Some scientists debate if the relationship truly is mutual however, as the host does not benefit in the same way, if at all, as the oxpecker.
Animals, such as the elephant and topi, actively brush away oxpeckers, signalling that there may be little benefit to their relationship.