In ecology, commensalism is an interaction between two living organism, where one creature benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped. The term commensalism derives from the latin com mensa, meaning sharing a table. Originally it was used to describe the use of waste food by second animals, like the carcass eaters who follow hunting animals, but wait until they have finished their meal. Other forms of commensalism include:

  • Phoresy: Using of a second organism for transportation. Examples are the remora on a shark, or mites on dung bugs. It has both temporary and permanent phoresy.
  • Inquilism: Using of a second organism for housing. Examples are epiphyte flowers like some orchids who grow on trees, or birds living in holes in trees.
  • Metabiosis: A more indirect dependency, in which the second organism uses something the first created, however after the death of the first. An example are the hermit crabs who use shell to protect their body.

See also

symbiosis - agroecology