burdock – awkward botany
Common burdock (Arctium minus) is one of four burdock species that have been Common burdock was included on a list of “such plants which are Land managers and others interested in maintaining stable native plant. Plants and animals never live alone. relationship that we should all be painfully aware of is the relationship between mosquitoes and mammals, like humans. with plants, like burdock, that disperse their seeds by making them sticky. An example of this inequality is the relationship between humans and dogs. .. may become loaded heavily with sticky fruit from the burdock (or other plants that .
Castor fiber native to Eurasia and Castor canadensis native to North America. Both species were hunted by humans to the brink of extinction but, thanks to conservation efforts, enjoy stable populations despite having been eliminated from much of their historical ranges.
Before the arrival of Europeans, North American beavers are estimated to have been anywhere from 60 million to million strong. Extensive trapping reduced the population to less than half a million.
North American beaver Castor canadensis — photo credit: Their interactions with plants are legion, and so what better way to introduce the concept of animal-mediated seed dispersal than beavers.
Plants have several strategies for moving their seeds around. Wind and gravity are popular approaches, and water is commonly used by plants both aquatic and terrestrial.
Partnering with animals, however, is by far the most compelling method. This strategy is called zoochory. Zoochory has many facets. Two major distinctions are epizoochory and endozoochory. In epizoochory, seeds become attached in some form or fashion to the outside of an animal. The animal unwittingly picks up, transports, and deposits the seeds. A well known example of this is the genus Arctium. Anyone who has walked through — or has had a pet walk through — a patch of burdocks with mature seed heads knows what a nuisance these plants can be.
But their strategy is effective. The burs of Arctium — photo credit: Seeds that are dispersed this way are usually surrounded by fleshy, nutritious fruits desired by animals. The fruits are consumed, and the undigested seeds exit out the other end of the animal with a bit of fertilizer.
Other seeds contain mild laxatives in their seed coats, resulting in an unscathed passage through the animal and a quick deposit. It attaches itself to the bodies of sharks, and uses the shark for transportation as well as protection from its predators. It also eats up the scraps of food that are left over when the shark eats its prey. Pseudoscorpions and Beetles Pseudoscorpions are scorpion-like insects that usually grow to less than one centimeter in length.
They are different from other types of scorpions in the way that they do not have stingers.
Arctium - Wikipedia
Some species of the pseudoscorpions hide themselves under the wing covers of large insects like beetles. This gives them protection from their predators, and also provides them a means of transportation over a larger area. Because of its small size and lack of sting, it does not harm the beetle in any way. Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed The Monarch butterfly is a well-known type of butterfly found commonly in the North American region.
At the larval stage, it forms a commensal relationship with certain species of milkweeds.
Golson Science Center
The milkweeds contain a poisonous chemical known as cardiac glycoside, which is harmful to almost all vertebrates. The Monarch stores these poisonous chemicals in its body throughout its lifespan. When a bird eats a Monarch butterfly, it finds it distasteful, and gets sick. Thus, they avoid eating it. Birds Following Army Ants Many birds form a commensal relationship with some species of ants like the army ants. A great number of army ants trail on the forest floor, and while moving, stir up many insects lying in their path.
The birds follow these army ants and eat up the insects that try to escape from them.
Examples of Commensalism for a Better Understanding of the Concept
The birds benefit by catching their prey easily, while the army ants are totally unaffected. Burdock Seeds on the Fur of Passing Animals Many plant species have adapted themselves by developing curved spines on their seeds or seedpods in order to disperse them over a larger area. The burdocks are a common type of weed that are mostly found along roadsides, and on barren land and fields. The burdock seeds have long, curved spines attached to them.
They easily catch onto the fur of passing animals, which carry and drop off these seeds to other regions. Barnacles and Whales The barnacles are a type of crustaceans that are sedentary, i.
At their larval stage, they stick to the bodies of other organisms like whales, and other places like shells, rocks, or even ships, and grow on their surface. While the whales are on the move, the barnacles catch hold of floating plankton and other food material using their feather-like feet. This way, they get the nutrition and transportation, and the whale is not harmed or benefited in any manner. Emperor Shrimp and Sea Cucumbers Emperor shrimp is a small crustacean that is usually found in the Indo-Pacific region.
It can be seen hitching a ride on sea cucumbers. These shrimp get protection as well as a mode of transportation to move about in larger areas in search of food, without spending any energy on their own.