Intraspecific ecological relationships

Bees are insects that live in society, an example of an intraspecific ecological relationship

We call biological interactions or ecological relationships the interactions that the organisms of a community maintain with each other. These interactions are classified as intraspecific or interspecific, being known as intraspecific ecological relationships and interspecific ecological relationships respectively.

Intraspecific ecological relationships, also called by some as homotypic interactions, occur between individuals of the same species. Interspecific ecological relationships , known by some as heterotypic interactions, occur between organisms of different species.

Intraspecific ecological relationships can be classified into:

→ Positive or harmonic – when none of the organisms involved in the interaction is harmed;

→ Negative or disharmonic – when there is damage to one of the organisms involved.

Among the harmonious intraspecific ecological relationships there are colonies and societies .

Colonies are groups of individuals of the same species that are anatomically united, bringing advantages to the entire group In colonies , depending on the species of living being, there may be division of labor, as for example, in the cnidarian Obelia , which has individuals responsible for reproduction and others responsible for feeding.       

Colonies can be of two types:

→ Heterotypic, heteromorphic or polymorphic : in this type of colony there is differentiation between its members with a division of labor between them;

→ Homotypic, homeomorphic or isomorphic : in this type of colony there is no difference between its members, and there is also no division of labor.

An example of a polymorphic colony is that of Obelia , which was given in the fifth paragraph. In this cnidarian, we find morphologically different organisms with well-defined functions.

As isomorphic colonies we can exemplify with corals, also belonging to the phylum of cnidarians. Corals are beings that build a limestone skeleton that houses hundreds to millions of practically similar individuals.

Societies are another example of harmonious intraspecific ecological relationships. In them, organisms of the same species do not live together anatomically as in colonies, but present an extremely organized degree of cooperation, communication and division of labor. As examples of societies, we have the so-called social insects, which are bees , wasps , ants and termites , and some mammals, such as beavers , gorillas and the human species .

As we saw earlier, intraspecific ecological relationships can also be disharmonious , such as intraspecific competition and cannibalism .

In intraspecific competition, organisms of the same species compete for the same resources, which are limited, available in the environment.

In cannibalism , one organism kills and devours another organism of the same species. As an example, we can mention some species of spiders, which devour the males shortly after mating, or some species of predatory fish, which, in the absence of food, can feed on younger fish of the same species.

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