Environmental Science – Species Roles and Interactions

Hey everyone, welcome back to our environmental science series and let’s get straight into our topic on species roles and interactions.

A species is a group of individual organisms that share common characteristics and genes that can reproduce with one another and produce viable offspring. Examples include humans, the Bengal tiger, African lion, etc.

Generalist species or R-selected species are very adaptable, meaning they can thrive in many environments without facing any problems to their survival rate or reproductive capability. These are typically small animals that occur in large numbers like cockroaches and mice.

Specialists, K-selected, can only survive in a specific ecosystem with a specific niche, or role. These are typically big and in smaller numbers such as camels, lions, and kangaroos.

Some species like deer and boar share characteristics of both of these types of species.

Indicator species are used by monitoring their populations to indicate whether an ecosystem is healthy or not. For example, a healthy frog population shows healthy water conditions as well as a good population of predators and prey in an ecosystem.

Foundational species set up new ecosystems. These are typically producers such as grass, but can also be animals that affect or change their environments such as beavers and elephants.

Keystone species have the most connections to other species in their food web. They have the biggest impact on their ecosystem. Species like these are otters and alligators.

All these species interact with each other in many different ways.

Some species are competitors for resources such as food, water, territory, and mates. Lions and hyenas are the best examples of this interaction.

Species can be predators, eating other organisms, or prey, eaten by other organisms.

There are three important symbiotic relationships to know:

Commensalism: One organism is benefitted while the other is neither harmed nor benefitted. An example would be a bird on the back of a rhino, using the rhino for flies as food and transportation.

Mutualism: Both organisms are benefitted by the relationship. An example would be bees getting nectar by flowers while transporting the plant’s sperm throughout the habitat.

Parasitism: An organism takes advantage of another organism for its own benefit by harming the other organism. The organism being harmed is known as the host. An example would be mosquitoes sucking blood from humans.

That’s the end of this talk! In the next talk we will talk about biome types. Remember to always reduce, reuse, and recycle! Comment if you have any questions and stay tuned for more talks on interesting topics. 

-Written By: Neil D. 3/4/2019

Credit:

Living in the Environment –

G. TYLER MILLER, JR.
SCOTT E. SPOOLMAN

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