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Symbiosis Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Tammie Mihet

Tammie has taught elementary school for 14 yrs. and holds an MA in Instructional Technology

Did you know that organisms can work together? Sometimes these relationships can be helpful or harmful. In this lesson you will learn about symbiosis and look closely at three different types of symbiotic relationships.

Symbiosis

It had been a delicious meal of fresh fish and now the razor sharp teeth needed cleaning. Crocky the crocodile tried desperately to get his claws inside his mouth to pick out the fish bones stuck in between his teeth, but he just couldn't reach them. What could he do? Ah ha, he would do what any smart crocodile would do, he would find a plover bird to jump right in there and give him a good cleaning!

Plover birds clean crocodile teeth
Plover Cleaning a Crocodiles Teeth

Can you imagine a bird jumping into a crocodile's mouth to clean his teeth, and getting some dinner in the process!? It happens every day and it is what scientists call symbiosis. Symbiosis is basically one organism (form of life) having a close relationship with a different organism. One example of this is you and your pet. You rely on each other and help each other out. However, not all symbiotic relationships are helpful. Some relationships are downright bad!

Mutualism: Living in Harmony Together

Have you ever heard the saying ''I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine''? Basically, that saying means, ''I'll help you out if you help me''. That is exactly what mutualism is! It is where two different species help each other out equally. Think about how the crocodile and plover help each other out. The plover cleans the crocodile's teeth and, in return, the crocodile provides dinner for the plover. Although, the crocodile only shares the leftovers stuck in his teeth! This relationship is an example of symbiotic mutualism.

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