Oxpecker Rhino Stock Photos & Oxpecker Rhino Stock Images - Alamy
Two species of oxpecker originate in Africa: red-billed and yellow-billed oxpeckers. The rhinoceros and the oxpecker have a mutual symbiotic relationship. The oxpecker lives on the rhino and eats ticks and other parasites that it finds as mutualism,where both species benefit from the relationship. African rhinos and African oxpeckers share a symbiotic relationship that was once confidently described as mutualistic, but recent research indicates that the.
Rhinos and Oxpeckers by Beth Schwarz on Prezi
Studies of white rhino dung show bacteria of the phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes dominating the microflora living in the rhino gut, along with many other unclassified bacteria. A Symbiotic, but Parasitic, Relationship in a Rhino's Gut The rhinoceros bot fly Gyrostigma rhinocerontis lives exclusively in the digestive tracts of both white and black rhinoceroses. The adults, which are the largest flies in Africa, lay their eggs on the skin of rhinos, and the larvae burrow into the rhino's stomach, where they attach and live through larval stages called "instars.
Then they have only a few days to find another rhinoceros host. This symbiotic relationship has no benefit to the rhino hosts, while the flies are "obligate parasites," which means they're dependent on the rhinos — they can't complete their life cycle without them. A Highly Visible Example of Symbiosis Oxpecker birds Buphagus erythrorhynchusalso called tickbirds, specialize in riding on large African animals, including rhinos and zebras, feeding on external parasites like the bot-fly larvae and ticks.
The International Rhino Foundation describes how mynah birds serve the same role on rhinos in India. The oxpeckers feast on the parasites they find, and they also lend the favor of raising a loud warning when a potential predator approaches.
Rhinos & the Oxpecker Bird
While the birds may hunt insects and ticks on their hosts — mutualistic behavior — they also peck at or create open wounds that can fester. They might eat loose dead skin, or peck at existing wounds to promote bleeding.
Because the rhino can survive without the tickbird, Kifaru is a facultative partner in this mutualistic relationship. Askari wa Kifaru The little oxpecker "askari wa kifaru" or "the rhino's guard" in Swahili "cleans" the rhino by plucking ticks from Kifaru's skin, but does so selectively; he prefers big, fat ticks that are already engorged with blood, ignoring the little ones that irritate Kifaru just as badly.
The oxpecker also searches any wounds or sores Kifaru may have and removes botfly larvae and other parasites, but in the process he also removes scabs and tissue, causing fresh bleeding.
In fact, the oxpecker gets his blood meals as much directly from Kifaru himself as from the parasites he removes. This makes the tickbird the obligate partner, almost a parasite himself.
Oxpeckers and Rhinoceros - Syn Biosis
He needs Kifaru with his parasite burden as a primary, if not a sole, food source. A Better Partner The oxpecker is not the only partner Kifaru has in mutualism. White birds larger that the tickbird follow the rhino, feeding on insects and small animals Kifaru disturbs as he passes.
They sometimes even ride on his back.
These are cattle egrets Bubulcus ibisand like the tickbird, they follow many large mammals to profit from their passage. This places the cattle egret in a different category of mutualism with the rhino, called commensalism. This is a more balanced relationship, as both partners benefit and neither takes more than he gives.