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Types of Competition and its Definition

Aug 20, 2022
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Introduction:

An ecosystem comprises the biotic and abiotic factors present in a particular environment. It includes abiotic factors like rock, soil, water, etc., as well as biotic factors like populations of different species of plants and animals living and interacting with each other in a particular area. 

Organisms that live together in an ecosystem interact with other living organisms and also with non-living factors. These interactions are mainly done to find food, water, space, mates, etc.  

A population is a group of interacting animals of the same species. A community is a group of interacting animals of different species. 

Explanation:

Types of interactions: 

Ecologists have studied various interactions between animals and described three main relationships through which species and individuals affect each other. 

They are as follows: 

parallel
  1. Predatory and prey relationships 
  1. Competitive relationships  
  1. Symbiotic relationships 
Types of interactions 

We have already studied the prey and predatory relationships. The animals that eat other animals in order to obtain energy are called predators. The animal that gets eaten is the prey. This type of relationship usually occurs within a community and not a population. This type of relationship mainly takes place in order to obtain energy or food. 

Competition: 

Competition is a type of interaction that occurs when two or more individuals in a population or in a community try to use the same resources. 

These resources may include: 

  1. Food 
  1. Water 
  1. Space 
  1. Sunlight 
  1. Mates, etc. 

An ecosystem can support only a limited number of living organisms. There are limited amounts of food, water, sunlight, shelter, and other resources. As a result, organisms struggle and fight against one another to obtain what they need for survival. This struggle is competition. It is the attempt by which organisms try to obtain a resource that is available in a limited supply. 

Competition for food: 

Animals of the same species or of different species compete with each other for food if they are living in the same environment. The food resource in any environment is limited, and in order to survive, animals have to compete. For example, these two wild dogs are fighting for the same food source, i.e., the deer. 

parallel
Competition for food

Competition for space: 

Organisms living in the wild do not always have enough living space. The Gila woodpecker, for example, makes its nest by drilling a hole in a saguaro cactus. Woodpeckers must compete with each other for nesting spots. If the available nesting spaces are limited, some woodpeckers would not be able to raise their young ones. Sometimes organisms of different species also compete for the same space. For example, if a Gila woodpecker abandons its nest, owls, flycatchers, snakes, and lizards may compete for the shelter of the empty hole. 

Competition for space

Competition for mates: 

Organisms of the same population can also compete with each other for mates during reproductive seasons. For example, male kangaroos fight during the breeding season for mating purposes. 

A lot of animals have developed courtship rituals in order to attract mates. All animals perform courtship rituals, but only the animal that has mastered the art of courtship rituals gets selected and wins in this competition. 

Competition for mates 

Competition for water: 

Organisms living together in an ecosystem make use of the same resources. For example, a water body in an ecosystem is used by all animals like the tiger, lion, zebra, deer, etc. If this resource becomes scarce, a competition will be created. This type of competition usually occurs when there is a disturbance in the ecosystem created by natural calamities like drought, excessive heat, etc. 

Competition for mates 

Competition for sunlight: 

Similar to animals, plants compete for food, water and space. Along with that, they also compete for sunlight. Sunlight is essential for photosynthesis which is required for growth and survival. The taller and larger trees receive more amount of sunlight. As a result, the trees that grow near the taller trees are not able to receive enough amount of light and hence their growth is affected. 

Competition for sunlight 

Types of competition: 

Competition can be divided into two different types depending on the interacting individuals. They are as follows: 

  1. Intraspecific competition: it takes place between members of the same species. 
  1. Interspecific competition: it takes place between members of different species.  

Interspecific competition: 

In ecology, interspecific competition is a type of competition in which individuals belonging to different species struggle for the same resources (e.g., food or living space) in an ecosystem.  

Consider the example of a tree; if a tree species in a large and dense forest grows taller compared to the surrounding tree species, it is able to absorb more amount of the incoming sunlight. 

Due to this, less sunlight is then available for the trees that are shaded by the taller tree; thus, interspecific competition can be seen.  

Interspecific competition 

Animals can also be in interspecific competition. For example, cheetahs and lions both feed on the same prey and can get involved in interspecific competition. These species are negatively impacted by the presence of the other because they will have less food. 

Intraspecific competition takes place in a community and not in a population. In this, animals compete for food, water and space. Animals do not compete for mates. 

Effects of interspecific competition: 

When two animals compete for a single resource, one often gets hurt. Interspecific competition can lead to the extinction of one or both species. The species that are less well adapted may get fewer resources, and as a result, members of that species may go extinct. It promotes diversification of niche. 

Intraspecific competition: 

In ecology, intraspecific competition is an interaction whereby members of the same species compete for limited resources.  

It is more severe as compared to the interspecific competition because members of the same species have very similar resources and requirements when compared to members of different species. 

For example, a population of fruit-eating birds will compete for the same fruit and same surroundings. Whereas two different species of birds may have different requirements for food, space, etc. 

 Intraspecific competition

In intraspecific competition, individuals can compete for food, water, space, light, mates or any other resource which is required for survival.  

Effects of intraspecific competition: 

Intraspecific competition may also lead to extinction. However, it is observed that intraspecific competition leads to greater specialization. Specialization occurs when the competing species develop different adaptations. For example, they may develop adaptations that allow them to use different food sources. 

Specialization in Anole Lizards: 

 Ground anole lizard and tree anole lizard

Most of the species of Anole Lizards prey on insects in the tropical rainforests. Competition between these species has led to the evolution of certain specializations. Some Anoles eat insects found on the forest floor. While others prey on insects found on trees. This allows various species of Anoles to live in the same area without competing with each other for food. 

Summary

  • An ecosystem comprises the biotic and abiotic factors present in a particular environment
  • Organisms that live together in an ecosystem interact with other living organisms and also with non-living factors. These interactions are mainly done to find food, water, space, mates, etc.
  • Three main relationships through which species and individuals affect each other are as follows:
  • 1. Predatory and prey relationships
  • 2. Competitive relationships
  • 3. Symbiotic relationships
  • Competition is a type of interaction that occurs when two or more individuals in a population or in a community try to use the same resources.
  • An ecosystem can support only a limited number of living organisms. There are limited amounts of food, water, sunlight, shelter, and other resources. .
  • As a result, organisms struggle and fight against one another to obtain what they need for survival. This struggle is competition.
  • Competition can be divided into two different types depending on the interacting individuals.
  • Interspecific competition is a type of competition in which individuals belonging to different species struggle for the same resources in an ecosystem.
  • Intraspecific competition takes place in a community and not in a population.
  • In this, animals compete for food, water and space. Animals do not compete for mates.
  • Interspecific competition can lead to the extinction of one or both species. The species that are less well adapted may get fewer resources, and as a result, members of that species may go extinct.
  • Intraspecific competition is an interaction whereby members of the same species compete for limited resources.
  • It is more severe as compared to the interspecific competition because members of the same species have very similar resources and requirements.
  • Individuals compete for food, water, space, light, mates or any other resource.
  • Intraspecific competition may also lead to extinction. However, it is observed that intraspecific competition leads to greater specialization.
  • Specialization occurs when the competing species develop different adaptations.

                                            

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