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In Ecological Communities, How Do Organisms Interact With One Another?

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Organisms in ecological communities interact with one another in four major ways.

1. One organism, by its activities, may benefit itself while harming the other. For instance, individuals of one species may kill and eat individuals of other species. One type of individuals may obtain their food from the other but may or may not kill it.

2. Two organisms may mutually harm each other. This type of interaction is common when two organisms use the same resources and the resources are insufficient to supply their combined needs. Such organisms are called competitors, and their interaction constitutes competition.

3. Individuals of two species may develop an intimate, long term relationship or association called symbiosis. In symbiosis both participants may benefit from an interaction (mutualism) or one participant benefits and the other is unaffected (communalism).

4. Some organisms do not kill the organism they feed on. Parasitism is a relationship in which organism feeds on the tissues or body fluids of another. The organism on which a parasite feeds is called the host. A parasite is harmful to its host and may even be fatal. Most parasites, however, do not kill their hosts. Fleas are parasites, as are ticks, lice, and a variety of worms, protests, and other organisms.

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