Oxpeckers and Rhinoceros - Syn Biosis
It is ironic then that symbiotic mutualism -a relationship between The Oxpecker and the Rhino: The Positive Eﬀects of imitation has long been regarded as a sensible guide to organizational change (e.g. Levitt & March. The red-billed oxpecker and the mammals roaming the plains have a mutually beneficial relationship in which the birds feed on ticks and other. The relationship between oxpeckers and African ungulates has traditionally been considered mutualistic . There was at least one oxpecker on each of the rhinos for % of the were small and only slightly larger than the tips of the beaks.
Relationships between species that do not benefit both members, but do not harm either one, are commensal.
Rhinos & the Oxpecker Bird
When one species harms the other, the symbiosis is parasitic. Rhinoceroses experience notable examples of both mutualistic and parasitic relationships.
Their digestion depends on microflora in the gut, for example. Also, they attract insect parasites, which in turn attract birds who eat the insects. The rhinoceros enjoys relief from the insects, while the birds enjoy a meal, but the relationships are not always so clear-cut.
The Oxpecker | Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve Blog
Mutualistic Relationships in a Rhino's Gut Rhinoceroses are ungulates: They eat tough plant matter but are not able to digest the cellulose their food contains. 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. Kifaru The rhino "kifaru" in Swahili grazes on the African savanna and shelters in dense thickets of thorny brush. Ticks lurk in both spots, waiting to fling themselves onto a host.
- The Oxpecker
Kifaru's skin is thick, but very sensitive and well supplied with blood just under the surface, so it bleeds easily. Ticks and other skin parasites make Kifaru itch horribly, so he spends a lot of time and energy scratching himself on rocks and trees, trying to get rid of them. This is where the oxpecker, or tickbird, can be a big help.
Kifaru is also very shortsighted and has a hard time seeing enemies if they approach, but the oxpecker on Kifaru's back can, and provides some warning by hissing and screaming. Because the rhino can survive without the tickbird, Kifaru is a facultative partner in this mutualistic relationship.
Askari wa Kifaru The little oxpecker "askari wa kifaru" or "the rhino's guard" in Swahili "cleans" the rhino by plucking ticks from Kifaru's skin, but does so selectively; he prefers big, fat ticks that are already engorged with blood, ignoring the little ones that irritate Kifaru just as badly.
Rhinos and Oxpeckers by Beth Schwarz on Prezi
The oxpecker also searches any wounds or sores Kifaru may have and removes botfly larvae and other parasites, but in the process he also removes scabs and tissue, causing fresh bleeding.
In fact, the oxpecker gets his blood meals as much directly from Kifaru himself as from the parasites he removes. This makes the tickbird the obligate partner, almost a parasite himself. He needs Kifaru with his parasite burden as a primary, if not a sole, food source.