Interactions Between Plants and Animals: Plant/Animal Relationship- Embibe
  • Written By aparna
  • Last Modified 18-05-2022
  • Written By aparna
  • Last Modified 18-05-2022

Interactions Between Plants and Animals: Pattern & Process

Interactions Between Plants and Animals: Plants and animals co-evolved; therefore, it’s no surprise that there exist a variety of intricate plant-animal connections. Co-evolution is the term for the interdependent evolution of two or more species. Some partnerships are mutually beneficial, while others clearly benefit one party at the expense of, or even death of, the other.

This article looks at plant-animal interactions. For, e.g. Mutualisms include plant/herbivore, plant/pollinator, plant/disperser, and others. Many biological processes in forests, such as seed dispersal, pollination, and community organisation, rely on animal-plant interactions. Herbivores perform critical ecological functions in nutrient cycling, gap development, and succession in temperate and tropical environments and influence forest composition and hydrology.

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Plant/ Herbivory Interactions

Herbivory is a type of interaction in which an animal consumes a plant or parts of a plant. Herbivory also refers to bacteria and fungi that cause illness by feeding on plant tissue at a microscopic level. Herbivores can also be specialised microbes that break down decaying plant tissue.

Herbivores that browse and graze include everything from aphids and caterpillars to deer and bison. Herbivores also include insects and animals that consume seeds.

Animals can induce structural and functional disturbance of primary and secondary growth of trees and shrubs through primary intake (herbivory). Herbivores can prune, weaken, or kill trees, lowering the quality of commercially valuable species’ timber.

Drought, nutrient deficits, air pollution, and other environmental factors weaken tree forests, making them more vulnerable to insect herbivore outbreaks. Plant architecture, growth, reproduction, and sex expression are all affected by herbivores that target apical meristems.

plant animal interaction

Plant/ Pollinator Interactions

Pollination is the transport of pollen from one flower to another’s stigma, or female reproductive organ, resulting in fertilisation and, eventually, seed development. Wind fertilised the first plants, and for certain modern plants, it is still the most efficient approach.

Wind pollination is designed into many trees, grasses, and plants with small flowers. Flowers that are bright and spectacular evolved for another reason: to attract pollinators. Many plants rely on pollination from animals. Plants rely on insects, birds, and even bats to survive. These plants’ blooms evolved in tandem with their pollinators, and their shape mimics the pollinators’ shape and habits.

Plants that are pollinated by bees are frequently irregular in shape, having a lip that serves as a landing pad for the bee. Flowers pollinated by butterflies are frequently broad and flat, like helicopter pads. Many plants have brilliantly coloured flowers to attract insect pollinators, and many offer nectar as a reward.

Plants benefit greatly from animal pollination. Outcrossing, or the transmission of pollen to unrelated individuals, ensures genetic variety because many pollinators travel long distances. By having access to a food source, the pollinator also benefits. Pollinator plant relationships are an example of mutualism.

Plant/ Disperser Interactions

Plants cannot share the same space. Seeds must be disseminated away from the parent plant in order to have room to flourish. Seeds are dispersed by a variety of mechanisms, including wind, water, and animals. Ingestion and hitchhiking are the two techniques used by animals to disperse.

Animals eat a wide range of fruits, dispersing the seeds through their droppings. Many seeds benefit not only from distribution but also from the journey through the intestine. Seeds are scarified by digestive acids, which help them break free from thick seed coatings.

Some seeds are equipped with hooks and barbs that allow them to lodge in the fur of passing animals. Two examples are beggar’s ticks and bur marigold. The seeds are eventually rubbed or scraped off, and they may find a suitable area to germinate and thrive.

Plant dispersal relies on people as well. Native Americans nicknamed the common weed plantain “white man’s footsteps” because it grew in the mud on settlers’ shoes wherever they went.

Plant/ Fungi Mutualism

Mutualism is an obligate interaction between organisms that needs both organisms to contribute and benefits both. In nature, there are several examples. Mutualism can be seen in the connection between mycorrhizal fungus and many higher plants.

Fungi have structures called hyphae that reside on or in plant tissues and make nutrients accessible for the plants to consume. Amino acids and other complex substances are provided by the plants to the fungi. Orchids are one of the most well-known examples.

Orchids have very restricted mycorrhizal relationships, whereas some plants can sustain up to 100 distinct fungi. Mycorrhizal associations differ between plant communities. A grassland’s microflora is distinct from that of a forest.

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Summary

Plants and animals co-evolved, so it’s no surprise that there exist a variety of intricate plant-animal connections. Some partnerships are mutually beneficial, while others clearly benefit one party at the expense of, or even death of, the other.

For e.g. plant/herbivore, plant/pollinator or plant/disperser. Ingestion and hitchhiking are the two techniques used by animals to disperse seeds. Mutualism is an obligate interaction between organisms that needs both organisms to contribute and benefits both. Examples are plant/fungi interactions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Students might be having many questions regarding Interactions between Plants and Animals. Here are a few commonly asked questions and answers.

Q.1. What is mutualism?
Ans: Mutualism is an obligate interaction between organisms that needs both organisms to contribute and benefits both. In nature, there are several examples. Pollination and dispersal are examples of mutualistic relationships in which both the plant and the pollinator or disperser benefit.

Q.2. What is herbivory?
Ans: Herbivory is a type of interaction in which an animal consumes a plant or parts of a plant.

Q.3. What is an example of a fungus that interacts with plants?
Ans: Mycorrhizal fungus interacts with several higher plants, forming root nodules.

Q.4. What is wind pollination?
Ans: Wind pollination is a process by which plants are pollinated via wind.

Q.5. What are the major ways of seed dispersal?
Ans: Seeds are dispersed by a variety of mechanisms, including wind, water, and animals.

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