Red-billed oxpeckers: vampires or tickbirds? | Behavioral Ecology | Oxford Academic
Rhino, Tickbird Stuck In Dead-End Symbiotic Relationship. Posted on April Some studies have been done on this issue, with varying results. The relationship is obligate for the birds, and it is generally assumed that hosts .. out that the presence of oxpeckers has not prevented tick problems on game in . and Laurie, ), commensal on impala, and mutualistic on rhinoceroses. The adorable oxpecker, perched on the back of a rhinoceros or zebra, aren't the only birds out there who have this type of relationship with.
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.
Rhino, Tickbird Stuck In Dead-End Symbiotic Relationship | Blogging about animal behaviour ()
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. 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. The rhinos would attempt to remove these birds by swishing their tails or shaking their legs.
These parasites are in abundance in the hides of large mammals. Thus tickbirds are often found on the backs of these large mammals, pecking away.
Those Little Birds On The Backs Of Rhinos Actually Drink Blood
On the surface, both animals benefit from this relationship. The oxpecker enjoys a guaranteed source of food, while the host mammal is rid of parasites.
According to Wikipediathis is a symbiotic relationship! We trust Wikipedia, right? However, it is not clear if the oxpeckers even reduce tick loads.
More after the jump. Some studies have been done on this issue, with varying results.
Rhino, Tickbird Stuck In Dead-End Symbiotic Relationship
The birds significantly reduced tick loads over a period of 7 days. Weeks observed two groups of oxen, one of which did not have contact with oxpeckers.
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It was found that preventing oxpeckers from foraging on oxen did not change tick loads. Studies also found that the oxpeckers can cause adverse effects on the host mammals. Weeks found that the group of oxen with oxpeckers had more wounds and larger wounds, as compared to those which did not.