Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Sloths and Moths - Lois

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Sloths and Moths
One of the strangest relationships between living organisms that benefit each other is the example of the sloth and the moth. Sloths have been fertilizing the ground beneath their trees/homes, but scientists wondered why and where this meaning came from. When I think of how odd this relationship is, I remember the size relevance between a moth and sloth. What could they possibly have in common that would help them benefit from each other? The sloths use the ground as their personal toilet and they know exactly what they’re doing. Sloths actually have a certain fur that is a habitat for moths. This fur is packed with green algae which is a habitat to Crypotes Choloepi Dyar, a species of moth. When the sloth uses the ground as a toilet, the female moths leave the mammal to lay eggs in the dung. The eggs eventually hatch and the the moth larvae feed on the the feces of the sloth. After they have grown, they fly back up where they find comfort again in the fur of the sloth.

After reading this quick summary I wondered, what exactly are the sloths getting out of this? It seems like the moths are living full life cycles among the sloth and their feces but what is the benefit for the tree canopy animals? After discovering that these three-toed sloths had more and more moths, the number of algae increased with those numbers. This is an example of mutualism in nature because both creatures are benefiting from each other. When the sloths help the moths thrive, the moths increase the algae growth in the fur of the sloth, which helps them be one of the most dependent herbivores. The sloths will eat the algae moth in their fur which is 5 times more full of nutrients than carbs and leaves. The digestive system accepts the algae better as well in the sloth. The algae also helps protect the mammals by giving them a stronger camouflage. This is a cycle that both organisms are surviving on with/by each other. Even though they are different in size, shape, and systems, sloths and moths are dependent on their daily lives and habits to survive.
The sloth-moth cycle. Credit: Pauli et al, 2013. Royal Society. Image result for sloths and moths


Monday, September 4, 2017

Symbiotic Relationship: Crocodile and the Plover Bird

I chose the "Crocodile and the Plover Bird" as my example of symbiotic relationship in the wild because it is just so intriguing. This ferocious, hard skinned predator has a soft spot in it for a little delicate individual called the Plover Bird.  The way this works is after eating, crocodiles climb the river bank and relax with their mouths open. This courageous little bird enters the crocodile’s mouth and picks up the scraps of food that are left. This cleans the crocodile’s teeth and prevents infection while providing a meal for the hungry bird. It also helps in keeping the crocodile free of insects  in his skin as well. Moreover, whenever the bird senses approaching danger, he gives his sharp warning call and flies off. The crocodile, now warned, can quickly roll over into the water where no animal can get the best of him. I just find this so amazing that in the wild you can find two completely opposite individuals come together with such beautiful compromise and trust.

Links: http://thejunglestore.blogspot.com/2008/05/symbiosis-crocs-and-plovers.html

Symbiotic Relationship - Amy

Coral and Zooxanthellae

I was researching for the symbiotic relationships, and then I remembered something I learned about a while ago about the Great Barrier Reef and coral bleaching. Coral reefs have one of the most important mutualistic relationships out there, made important because coral reefs make up really important ocean habitats and support so many different species and ecosystems.
Coral has a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with a photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae. Coral is made up of tiny polyps, which are actually distantly related to jellyfish, which I thought was interesting. The polyps consume minerals, and over time grow larger and are able to grow into reefs as their skeletons grow. Most of the energy that the polyps need to process the minerals they take in is provided by the zooxanthellae algae. The coral provides the zooxanthellae things like carbon dioxide, phosphorus, nitrogen, and a habitat. In return, the zooxanthellae gives the coral oxygen, sugars, and fats. Because the zooxanthellae provide so much of the energy coral needs to grow, it can grow in nutrient poor waters(the super clear, pretty tropical waters), which makes zooxanthellae the reason coral reefs can be so successful and grow so large; majority of the energy they use is from photosynthesis the algae does. The algae also gives coral its color, which is neat.

This is a neat video about coral and how they get their food, and it talks a lot about the ways coral benefits from the zooxanthellae.

Zooxanthellae are very sensitive to environmental changes, and temperature is a big factor that determines where the algae can survive. If the temperature raises too high, zooxanthellae will abandon the coral, and without the algae, the coral is pretty much doomed. This is how coral bleaching happens, and how it gets its name, because when the zooxanthellae leaves, the coral is left without the thing that gives it its vibrant color. With ocean temperature rising, we are seeing more reefs losing their color and dying, as the algae cannot withstand the heat.

(Side note: I also found that sunscreen of all things is super bad for coral and can cause bleaching. This natgeo article has more info on it http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/nature/is-sunscreen-killing-our-coral-reefs.aspx )


Symbiotic Relationship: Salamander & Algae

Out of all of the symbiotic relationships, this one specifically spoke to me because I had a pet salamander when I was a child and was intrigued to know more!

This relationship is crazy because it is the only known symbiotic relationship that inhabits the cells of a vertebrate. The boundaries of the relationship are crossed, with the algae actually slipping into the cells of the salamander. This relationship was discovered as researchers tagged the algae with fluorescent markers and had conclusive evidence that the organisms were contained inside the embryo, inside living cells of spotted salamander.

A comparison given was that this relationship would be like us humans having traces of algae inside the mother's womb and allowing it to be there.

As far as the benefits of relationship go, the salamanders do quite well, reversely, the algae is in a lot of stress. Researchers don't understand conclusively why this particular relationship exists if both organisms aren't benefiting as much as others do. Some question if this is even a symbiotic relationship at all, or merely a different form, yet to be seen elsewhere.

SOURCE: http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/spotted-salamanders-and-green-algae-have-a-strange-symbiotic-relationship/

The Symbiotic Relationship of Bees and Orchids

The symbiotic relationship of Bees and Orchids.

     The male bee (Euglossine bees) collect a perfume from South and Central American neotropical orchids. They use this perfume to transform it into chemical signals called pheromones. This chemical is critical of the reproduction process of orchids. The potent concoction may attract females, be used to mark territories, or it may just smell awfully good. 


     Also, both organisms depend heavily on each other for their own life support. In turn; you can make the assumption that without orchids there would be no bees to survive; vice versa with orchids.
Through a close observation it almost appears that the orchid was "constructed" specifically for male bees. It provides what looks to be a landing pad for the insect to land upon and 'load' it with the pollen that the bee then carries to the female orchid. And, at the same time it looks like those front legs of the orchid bee are pretty good tools for extracting fragrance from the orchid.


Tongue eating louse and fish

This is Cymothoa Exigua, otherwise known as the Tongue-Eating Louse:

It severs blood vessels in the fishes mouth which cause the tongue fall off. The parasite then attaches its own muscles to the tongue stub and acts as a replacement.

The parasite enters fish through the gills. The female attaches to the tongue and the male attaches on the gill arches beneath and behind the female. 

Polydnaviruses and Parasitic Wasps - Audrey

Polydnaviruses and Parasitic Wasps

Out of all the symbiotic relationships I could find, the most intriguing and fascinatingly
gruesome was between Polydnaviruses and Parasitic Wasps. The process is a bit dense, so I’ll
start with the simplified version before trying to explain the more technical aspects of the
relationship. The Polydnaviruses (PDV) need the wasps in order to replicate, and the Parasitic
Wasps need the PDV in order to invade and occupy a host body, usually a caterpillar. The wasps
help PDV become a successful replicating virus, and PDV help the wasps to become more
effective parasites. Both would cease to thrive or even exist without the other.
Polydnaviruses reproduce inside the female wasps’ ovaries and cannot replicate outside
of the wasps, so PDV’s replication is dependent on the survival of wasps that carry PDV.
Parasitic Wasps, on the other hand, are independent insects as adults, but as eggs they develop
inside a host (the caterpillar) that provides essential nutrients. When a female wasp lays eggs in
the caterpillar, it also deposits Polydnavirus. The virus prevents the caterpillar’s blood cells from
encapsulating and killing the wasp eggs. Once the eggs are developed larvae and no longer need
the nutrients of the host, they release a chemical that paralyzes the caterpillar before they chew
their way out. At this point, the larvae are still susceptible to many environmental threats, mainly
other wasps. They immediately begin to spin cocoons for protection. At the same time, the
caterpillar also begins to spin a cocoon over all the individual larvae’s cocoons, adding an second
layer of protection. Scientists believe that this happens because PDV invades the caterpillar’s
brain, causing it to protect the larvae that invaded and fed off of it. The virus also causes
caterpillars to become aggressive, which helps to further protect the larvae. The caterpillar
literally sits atop them, acting as a guard until it eventually dies of starvation. The presence of
PDV in the caterpillar ensures that the wasp eggs can develop into larvae, then wasps, which
allows the PDV to replicate. This is a rare example in nature of a virus (PDV) evolving to have a
mutually beneficial relationship with a parasite. Scientists are now studying how that evolution
Source: file:///Users/aderidder/Desktop/insects-03-00091.pdf

Mutualism: Snow Crab and Algae: Sierra

Mutualism: Snow Crab and Algae

         Mutualism is when two or more different species are in a relationship that involve activities that benefit both of the organisms. A great example of two species that help each other out is the relationship between the Snow Crab and Algae. The Snow Crab, also known as Chionoecetes meaning snow, tend to live in the cooler more northern oceans. Snow Crabs are scavengers of the benthic shelf, eating dead animals or preying upon worms and mollusks. But they are also prey to larger animals such as sharks, birds, turtles, and humans. Since crabs have a hard external shell that cannot change colors to help them blend into their environment they rely on algae to give them camouflage. Algae is a simple plant that grows in water through the process of photosynthesis or heterotrophic growth. Algae is eaten by many sea creatures like fish, snails, shrimp, and clams. To avoid being eaten the algae will attach itself to a snow crab and begin to grow, the greenish- brown color of the algae allows the crab to blend into the sea floor and the crabs back gives the algae a safe place to live.


Symbiotic Relationship between Carrier crabs and Sea Urchins

       Homolidae otherwise known as Carrier or Porter Crabs have 5 pairs of legs, however the last pair are used specifically to hold and move objects in the sea. They can pick things or other sea creatures up and move them by resting them on their lower back shell. These crabs have been seen carrying sponges, coral, and sea urchins. This post will focus more so on the sea urchins.

       The crabs will carry these urchins to protect themselves from predators. The crabs will generally use urchins that are poisonous or spiky urchins. This also decreases the likeliness of an attack. So the crab get protection, it may seem like the urchin doesn't loose or gain anything from this, but they do. They get access to new feeding grounds. Although most urchins can move to new feeding grounds themselves, the crabs move them faster and more efficiently.

       Sometimes this symbiotic relationship can actually turn into a chain of symbiotic relationships. Some smaller fish will take this opportunity to have a safe shelter from bigger fish and other predators while moving with the crab and the urchin to a different part of a reef. The video above however does not show the fish symbiotic relationship.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homolidae
http://www.wetpixel.com/articles/wild-oceans-crab-uses-urchin-shield (video)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Symbiotic Relationships Between Yeti Crabs and Various Bacteria

The yeti crab is a species of crab living deep in the South Pacific that has a very sophisticated method of getting food; it cultivates various types of bacteria on the long, coarse hairs that grow on their arms and claws and eats them.  The bacteria on the arms of the crabs can gain energy by breaking down the methane and hydrogen sulfide that leaks out of cold seeps, or ocean floor vents, and converts them to sugars which they can consume for energy with any excess being “stored” in their surroundings on the crab’s arm.  The yeti crab assists the bacteria by waving their arms over cold seeps, providing the bacteria with enough methane and hydrogen sulfide to thrive and reproduce and the yeti crab with enough bacteria to eat.  The whole process is effective enough where the bacteria grown on their arms and excess sugar is actually enough to be the primary food source for the yeti crab.

Even though the bacteria is eaten by the crab, the situation is mutually beneficial as the crab provides a habitat for the bacteria with it's arms, and provides it with more than enough resources to thrive.   Furthermore, the yeti crab does not eat the entire population since that would get rid of it's primary food source.



Friday, September 1, 2017

Symbiotic Relationship Between Emerald Cockroach Wasp & Cockroach

The Emerald Cockroach Wasp is quite the savage little fellow. It gets it's name from it's life cycle of using a cockroach's system to successfully hatch their larvas. Here's how the cycle goes:

The female wasp has a stinging organ in which the male does not. Once the wasp has found it's cockroach, it leaps into attack mode to sting the cockroach, injecting venom into it's abdomen, temporarily paralyzing the cockroach. But one sting isn't enough. The wasp then injects a second sting which immobilizes the brain, leaving the cockroach vulnerable and to complete use to the wasp. Because the wasp is too small to drag the cockroach into it's den, the wasp pulls at the antennae of the roach as if it were a leash.

Once the cockroach has been successfully lodged into it's burrow, the female wasp then lays a single egg onto the abdomen of the roach. From here, the wasp leaves it's burrow, burying it's entrance with pebbles to keep predators out. Completely helpless, the roach lays in the burrow for at least three days where the larvae will start to hatch and feed off of the roach's abdomen for about 4-5 days. At this point, the larvae starts to dig into the abdomen of the roach. The internal organs of the roach are being eaten by the larvae in the order that keeps the roach alive the longest. This ensures the freshness of the roach's flesh and prevents the organs from rotting if the roach were to die before the larvae finished feeding.

Once the cockroach is hollow (around 8 days of feeding time) the larvae reaches it's pupae stage and forms a cocoon within the cockroach. Eventually, the adult wasp will emerge from the burrow to begin the cycle all over again.

Symbiotic Relationship: Between a Salamander and Algae?

A New Symbiotic Relationship Has Been Found Unlike Any Before

A specific type of algae is found to inhabit the embryo cells of a breed of spotted salamander. Unlike other symbiotic relationships, this is the first one found involving a species actually inhabiting the cells of a vertebrate. Typically a symbiotic relationship of this kind is seen between multiple forms of bacteria to form a 'mutualistic' relationship where both types of bacteria benefit from their relationship with the other through a process that can include invading the actual cells and changing the makeup of the other bacteria. In traditional symbiotic relationships, a an organism will benefit from another organism through their activities while in close proximity to the other organism; this can be with something as large as a blue whale in a symbiotic relationship with the barnacles growing on its side. However, there are few instances where the boundaries between a symbiotic relationship between organisms and a mutualistic one between bacteria are crossed.

Originally the relationship between the spotted salamander and algae was thought to be a traditional ‘mutualistic’ symbiotic relationship where the algae would feed off the carbon and nitrogen coming from the salamander, and in return the eggs would get a supply of oxygen from the photosynthesizing algae. However, since the algae will actually slip inside the cells themselves similar to the ways in which bacteria will change the makeup of another bacteria, the relationships crosses the boundaries of the either of the traditional symbiotic relationship definitions. Upon entering the cells, the algae can no longer synthesize (due to the lack of oxygen and sunlight) and therefore becomes very stressed; using the same principles of many other plant cells in high-stress conditions, when the algae begins to ferment inside the egg cells.

The most confusing part about this development is that, despite scientists being convinced this is in fact a type of symbiotic relationship, there is no obvious benefit for either organism similar to ones seen in other symbiotic relationships. Despite the intrusion, the salamander’s cells allow the algae to co-habituate without any obvious benefit for the salamander. As of now, scientists are still researching what could be the benefit of such a relationship in the first found of its kind. Perhaps this will lead to the research and discovery of other endosymbiotic relationships in vertebrates.

Here is a photo scientists have collected of the salamander cells with the algae inside:

And here are some links concerning the discovery. This webpage highlights the initial discovery, and this article develops on the research scientists have worked on since.

Sources: https://www.boundless.com/microbiology/textbooks/boundless-microbiology-textbook/microbial-ecology-16/microbial-symbioses-196/mutualism-vs-symbiosis-987-10859/ http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news-archive/17995.html https://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-dig-into-the-genes-of-a-one-of-a-kind-of-symbiotic-relationship

Symbiotic Relationships and Fun Guys - Olivia

Symbiotic Relationships and Fun Guys

The Mafia
As far as mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships go, my mind immediately goes to the mafia. Partially because I’m thoroughly enjoying reading The Godfather right now, partially because it is true. The people who pledge their allegiance to the Godfather (The Don, Vito Corleone) gain from him and his empire in eprotection, insurance they can continue their gambling houses without jail sentence or meddling of outsider smugglers/etc. The Godfather himself wins because his reign has then grown, and too, he can go back and request a favor from this particular person once he has honored their request. The contacts (friends) he may pull from later become vast- bakery owners, morticians (handy in his line of work), policeman, etc. Sometimes he pledges to keep their business endeavors safe, sometimes he agrees to send someone to murder someone who has done their daughter wrong.
He gains “friends” all over the united states, and the world. People who owe him favors because he has protected them in the past. This helps him, for example, when his son Michael needs to go into hiding. Michael is sent back to Corleone, Italy, for three years to disappear from an investigation under his name. He stays with the mafia chief that is reigning in this particular place, under his protection because this chief has an alliance with The Don (The Godfather). Which still benefits this Italian Don, because the power of The Godfather is greatly known and feared. The Godfather can make or break you and he has few enemies who dare lift a finger against him.

More Fun Guys

Similar mutually-beneficial relationships exist in the natural world as well. One example of this ringing true was proved in a study conducted by a scientist named Tamir Klein whose involvement in the research of spruce trees in Switzerland yielded such results as were surprising to their team. During a 5-year period they tested how spruce would respond to higher carbon dioxide levels.
Already it was known that trees often connect their roots to share nutrients and information. Through the above study they discovered the isotope they had used among not just the spruce trees intentionally exposed, but also among neighboring beech, larch, and pine trees. The percentages of carbon they found among these was shown to mix freely among the groupings.
They believe that a popular and very helpful fungi called Mycorrhizae are responsible for this transfer. Mycorrhizae take in water and minerals from the soil then hand some of these over to the plants in exchange for nutrients. Interestingly enough, intensively farmed plants don’t have this system and as a result may be missing out on health benefits.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Going to the zoo my team and I spent a lot of time by the polar bears, watching one in particular swim back and forth with to no end. We later leaned from a trainer there that the polar bears favorite activity is to play around swimming, and that is in fact what they spend most of there time doing in the wild! It is a great way for them to work out and stay active when not looking for food. It was amazing to watch the bear swim back and forth so effortlessly, as heavy as the animal was it traveled between each forceful push with such grace and ease. Every once in awhile it would take a break and rest above water. Eventually the trance watching the bear broke as it stopped swimming which is when we talked to the trainer for awhile then moved on. 

The next spot we spent the remainder of our time was at the monkey exhibit. I began interacting with a monkey, who I managed to entertain enough for him to sit by my sad threw the class for about 15 minutes. We with simple interactions, then eventually I grabbed my phone and looked up “Funny animal videos” then proceeded to press it to the glass the monkey found very entertaining. He would react to what was happening in the videos after waited patiently for 10 minute for the video to finish. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hey you guys! I don't know if any of you have interest in looking at this but its the book I made of everyones opinions on why we exist! Sorry if they are a little hard to read the would not upload full res:) Enjoy!!


This is a really great Ted Talk about Monika Lewinsky's views on how technology has changed our social construct of communication and harassment! Defiantly worth watching!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Monkey Light's!!!

Monkey Light's are making safety cool! They are waterproof, shockproof, create the rider to be fully visible in dark hours, and make your bike totally awesome. This video reminded me of our product project- bizarre ideas that actually end up being extremely successful, and beneficial to mankind.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Peacock Spiders!

I know we already did the biology stuff earlier in the semester, but this species I found was too awesome to pass up!
I recently found out about the Peacock Spider. It's an species in the arachnid group that are very small in stature, but giant in charisma! The superpower of the Peacock Spider is in the way they mate. Male Peacock Spiders use the language of dance. I'm totally not kidding. They are not only the choreographers, but they also create their own house music to dance to! It even gets to a point that male Peacock Spiders often compete with other males to see if their dancing is up to par. It's like Step Up but with little spiders. If a male spider's dancing isn't up to the standards of the female, the female will not hesitate to eat the male, but only if their dancing is bad. They're not only dancing for sex, but they're dancing for their lives.
The female spiders are known as the "Tina Belchers" of the animal kingdom. All they need is a cute butt and some good dance moves to get them in the mood.
This is a video of a male spider dancing to the YMCA. It's pretty great.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Zoo Observation—Como Zoo

Well I’m really-really-really late to the party but I need to at least give you guys something so I’m not a total bum.
I’m thinking back to our visit to Como Zoo and what a nice time I had. Although I’ve never been a big fan of zoos I thought the reason for our going was great. What I wish we could do is have the resources to make all of our excellent biome ideas come true. But we can dream and try to inspire the future.
One of the thoughts I had while walking around the zoo waswhat if humans were put behind glass and on display. Since our assignment was to observe people observing the animals and interacting with their environments I found this perspective to be pretty helpful.
The one aspect that really stuck out to me was how the habitats are downsized to a relatively microscopic levelcompared to the animal’s natural habitatsso that people would have the opportunity to see the creatures up close. It begged the question, are these habitats setup for our benefit as observers or the occupant’s benefit of physical safety and/or rehabilitation?
Let’s consider a hypothetical comparison. Let’s say that we as MCAD students are on display for the benefit of others to observe. We would need to be kept in a limited space (like the MCAD campus) and be given only what we need—to be what we are—and nothing more. We could never leave campus and we’d have to tolerate groups of people taking turns observing us in our “natural habitat” all day long while we studied. What a terrible existence it’d be.
Imagine getting tossed chunks of chocolate-peanut butter rice-krispy treats from the cafeteria while we pick bugs out of each other’s hair hiding from groups of little kids banging on our glass walls while their parents play youtube videos to us of students they saw on their visit to the U of M campus last month.
I know this is a pretty ridiculous mental picture I’m attempting to create for you. But realistically, it’s pretty much what I observed on our visit to the zoo at the primate habitat. I so badly wanted to wave a magic wand and expand their containment areas by 100 times or more.
But that’s not where I spent my 30 minute observation time. I actually spent that time in the “zen garden” outside of the terrarium. I walked around for a short time to find a good place to sit. At first I thought a bench would work but decided against it for fear of interfering with the natural flow of people walking and spending their own quiet time. Instead I found a small boulder off the path just a bit and found a comfortable groove to sit and watch.
People walked with one another taking photos of each other while I took my own of them. Little did they know I had caught them in my own personal pop-up human zoo.
Some people would sit for a short time on benches located to my right and left.
A family gathered to take a “group-selfie” with a shallow water fall trickling behind them. I took a quick photo of the moment.
A couple of minutes later two Japanese women take a seat on a wooden bench to my left. They certainly brought the atmosphere together for the moment. They really fit into the scene. They sat quietly—peacefully—enjoying they serine human habitat. I aim to take a couple of photos as one of the ladies looks over at me. I gesture for permission to take a photo--she agrees. I snap a couple of shots and moments later send a nod of gratitude.
I see the same family taking another group selfie off in the distance, probably with another quaint yet unremarkable backdrop.
Then to my right two other ladies sitting on the other bench. Looking at them reminded me that I was in Minnesota. They sat there gossiping while crunching on apples. I shoot a couple of photos but my exposure was off so I adjust and fire off a couple more as one of the ladies looks over in my direction.

The atmosphere is quiet for a while and I take the time to enjoy it.
The Japanese ladies make their motion to depart and I take the cue as well. I give them a subtle wave of goodbye.
I begin walking back to meet up with my group and as I pass the two apple crunching women one of them asks rather starkly; did you take a photo of us? I answered truthfully and could tell that she was irritated by me. She was very cold and stern and was adamant that I should have asked for permission first. I replied with an apology and explained that asking to take her photo would have an adverse affect on the observations I was trying to capture. I show her the preview on my camera and erase the image and gain a little approval.
After putting her mind at ease I walk away to find my group; little did she know that I actually took more than just the one photo of her and her friend.
So what did I learn from all of this?
Comparing my time in the zen garden with that of my brief observations of the primate exhibit revealed some correlations. In the primate exhibit I noticed that some of the primates seemed to enjoy the attention from human observers while others seemed to avoid interactions completely--they wanted to be left alone and unnoticed. In the zen garden by comparison I found similar mindsets between the two couples of ladies. The first couple of ladies to my left were happy to be observed and photographed while the other two seemed offended by it--like they just wanted to be in public but left unseen. The family didn’t taking selfies seem to care either way--they were in their own little world. The big difference between the primates and the humans was that the humans had a choice to stay home, the primates were home.