in ,

Examples of Interspecific relationships and their types

Within a biocenosis, different types of relationships between organisms or living beings are established. These relationships are called biotic relationships and can be intraspecific, when they are established between organisms of the same species, and interspecific when they are established between organisms of different species, regardless of whether they are plants, animals or microorganisms of other types.

With this Green Ecology article, we want to help you learn in a simple way all about interspecific relationships: types and examples.

Types of interspecific relationships

There are different types of interspecific relationships that can occur between the organisms of a community and are defined in relation to the beneficial effect (+), harmful (-) or neutral (0) for each of the individuals involved.

  • Relationships (0) / (+)
  • Relationship (+) / (0)
  • Relations (+) / (-)
  • Relationship (+) / (+)
  • Relationship (-) / (-) or (+)

Next, we explain each of these types of interspecific relationships with examples .

Within the types of relationships between species called (0) / (+) we find these types:

  • Amensalism: relationship in which an individual produces a toxic substance for another, as for example, the eucalyptus ( Eucalyptus globulus ) secretes substances that damage and make impossible the growth of plant species around them.
  • Antibiosis: occurs when a species secretes harmful substances for another species that competes with it. A classic example of antibiosis is the Penicillium fungus, which produces substances that inhibit the growth of microorganisms around it.

Relations between species of the type (+) / (0)

The interspecific relationships known as the type (+) / (0) are the following:

  • Epibiosis: is established when a sessile and harmless organism (epibiont, lives on top of another living being
  • Tanatocresis: a relationship that occurs when an individual uses the remains of other dead organisms for their own benefits such as excrement or their secretions. An example is the hermit crab ( Eupagurus bernhardus ), which takes refuge and protects using the empty shell of a snail.
  • Forestry: relationship established when one species uses another as a means of transport and movement, without causing harm. An example of Phoresis occurs when a mite uses the abdomen of certain types of beetles to move without spending energy.
  • Commensalism: one of the participating species (the guest) benefits from another (the guest), without causing benefit or harm. Actually, within the term commensalism, one can include phoresis, epibiosis,  and tenancy.
  • Tenderness: occurs when one of the species lives in the shelter or burrow of another. An example of this relationship occurs between epiphytic plants and some types of trees or insects that inhabit the burrows of peasant mice.

Interspecific relationships (+) / (-)

Within the type (+) / (-) of relations between species we find:

  • Predation: relationship that involves the capture and death of some organisms (predators) over others (prey). Predation is a relationship between two species of free life, without a previous or direct relationship between them. It is one of the most important relationships from the point of view of natural selection and the same organism can be a predator and in turn a prey to others. Examples are numerous, such as the polar bear that preys on seals and reindeer or the anteater with termites and ants.
  • Parasitism: an individual (parasite) lives at the expense of the fluids of another individual (host), which is harmed, but does not cause death in the short term. They can be ectoparasites when they live outside the host, feeding on their blood or sap. An example of an ectoparasite is the tick. On the contrary, the endoparasites live in the internal environment of the host, evolving with it. An example of endoparasites is intestinal worms or trichina. For example, in this other article, we explain the Parasites that affect plants.
  • Exploitation: relationship in which a group of individuals is benefited by others, who are harmed. Within this category, predation or parasitism can be included.

Relations between species of the type (+) / (+)

In this type of relationships between species, the so-called (+) / (+) we can find these two types and subtypes:


In this type of relationship, both organisms (symbionts) benefit from some process of the other with which they have a close relationship. A classic and very frequent example is that of lichens, where a fungus (or mycobiont) benefits from the photosynthesis of algae (phycobiont), which benefits from the protection of the fungus against factors such as desiccation.


It is a type of relationship very similar to symbiosis, with the difference that the relationship between the two organisms is not so intimate. We can differentiate it in turn in:

  • Resource-resource relationship: one type of resource is exchanged for another. For example, rhizobia that fix nitrogen and legumes exchange nitrogen with carbohydrates or carbohydrates.
  • Service-natural resource relationship: an example is a pollination, in which the nectar (natural resource) is exchanged for the pollen dispersion (service). This is one of the reasons for the great importance of bees and other living pollinators.
  • Service-service relationship: an example is a relationship established between the sea anemone and the clownfish, which exchange protection (services).

Interspecific relation of type (-) / (-) or (+)

The relationship between species of the type (-) / (-) or (+) is the so-called competition. It is a relationship that is established between two species that compete for a resource, either abiotic or biotic, such as water, territory, couple or food. It is one of the most important relationships from the point of view of natural selection since it can determine that a species reduces its reproductive rate or, in extreme cases, it is extinguished because it can not adapt to the competition. Can be:

  • Competition for exploitation: a species consumes and uses a resource more efficiently, reducing its availability for others. An example is a competition among aphids that consume the sap of trees. In this case, the aphid species that consumes the most resources leaves less for the other.
  • Competition by interference: a species directly interferes in the way of obtaining the food and in the fact of achieving it, in the survival or reproduction of another species through acts such as aggression. An example is a territorial competition that occurs with ants.


10 Examples of Intensive and Extensive Agriculture