The branch of biology that deals with the relationship among various living organisms and with their physical environment including both biotic and abiotic factors are called ecology. Ecological interactions describe the interaction between and among the organisms living within their environment. Every living organism requires food for their survival. However, the strategy for obtaining food by the organisms may not be the same in all the organisms. Predation is the ecological method by which the food in the form of energy is transported from one living organism to another living organism based on the predator behavior which kills a prey organism before killing it. Predators occupy the in food chains. This upper trophic level helps to understand their normally less density, comparatively less biomass, and frequently spaced distribution. Predation controls the energy flow through the ecosystem, from the producers through to the apex predators. Predators and prey evolved with various adaptations through natural selection. Predators develop strategies to make them more effective in catching prey. Prey organisms develop adaptations to help them avoid being eaten. The strategies and adaptations may take many , mimicry, chemical warfare, defensive mechanisms, and speed.
Most of the predators are secondary and tertiary consumers. Predators always check their prey populations, which helps the predators to increase in number.
This increase has resulted from a decrease in prey populations as the predators feed on their prey. This loss of the number of prey organisms then leads to a reduction in the number of predators, which allows the number of prey organisms to increase. This continues in a cycle that allows the ecosystem to stay stable.
Example: The wolf and rabbit populations can . When the population of rabbits increases, there is more prey for the wolves (predator) to eat.
This allows the population of predators (wolves) to increase, which means more number of rabbits should be fed to support the increased population.
This can cause the population of rabbits to reduce in number. As the population of rabbits reduces, the increased number of population of wolves can no longer get supported due to a lack of rabbit (prey) populations, which will cause death and a reduction in the number of wolf members in a population.
Less number of wolves allows more rabbits (prey) to live and reproduce, which increases their population and the cycle is back to the start. There are four major types of predation and are given as follows.
The carnivorous predators kill and eat their prey and are considered as the first types of predation. The carnivory is the predation type that involves the predator consuming the meat of prey organisms or non-plant organisms.
The organism which feeds on other animals is called carnivores. The carnivores are further divided into two types namely, obligatory carnivores and facultative carnivores.
The obligatory carnivores are organisms that must eat meat to survive. Example: lion, tiger, cheetahs.
Facultative carnivores are predators that can eat meat, but they are not completely dependent on meat for their survival. This type of carnivores is also called omnivores. Example: human, bears, and dogs.
Herbivorous predation is the type of predation in which the predators feed on autotrophs like plants, algae, and other photosynthetic organisms. The organisms which feed on plants are called herbivores.
The herbivorous predators are divided into two types, namely, monophagous herbivores and polyphagous herbivores.
The monophagous herbivory feeds only one type of plant.
The polyphagous herbivory feed on various kinds of plants and most of the herbivores come under this category. For example, deer feed on different types of grasses, and monkeys feed on different fruits.
The parasitic predation does not require the death of the prey organisms to feed on and to gain nutrients from it.
Parasitism is defined as the relationship in which the parasite (predator) is benefitted at the expenditure of the prey (host) organism.
Example: head lice. Head lice feed on the blood of the host and it causes negative health effects for most of the host individuals, but it does not kill the host.
Mutualism is also referred to as symbiosis where individuals of a positive effect of ecological interaction.
It is a symbiotic association that occurs between two different organisms that are mutually benefitted each other. Example: nitrogen-fixing bacteria and legumes.
Mycorrhiza is a modified root that exhibits a symbiotic association between a fungus and the plant roots.
In plants, the plant roots and thereby facilitates the uptake of water as well as a nutrient in the plant. The plant gives the food and nutrients produced by photosynthesis to the fungus.
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