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The term Commensalism was created in 1876 by a Belgian zoologist and paleontologist Pierre-Joseph van Beneden, together with the term ‘mutualism.’ Originally, Beneden used the term to explain the activity of carcass-eating animals, which followed predators to consume their uneaten food without causing any harming to them. The word commensalism originates from the Latin word commensalis, meaning ‘sharing a table.’ Commensalism is most regularly in the field of ecology and biology.

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1. What is Commensalism?

Commensalism refers to the relationship between two living organisms in which one of them depends on the other without either endangering it or benefiting it. The parasite obtains shelter, locomotion, support, or food from its host. Often, the host is neither endangered nor benefits from the interaction, whereas the commensal species manifests a lot of morphological adaptation. Dependence ranges from short-term interaction to long life reliance. In practice, it is not easy to show that the passive species remains unaffected. For instance, certain birds live in holes in trees. Does their living in there affect the trees? All we can say for real is that the trees continue living and producing, and therefore we assume that the birds do not harm the host plant.

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