Friday, March 18, 2011

Saharan Pest Control, Buphagus africanus/Buphagus erythrorhynchus


[1]

Introduction:
The species involved in this relationship are Oxpecker,Buphagus africanus or
Buphagus erythrorhynchus, and the Black Rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis. Oxpeckers are located across most of Africa while the Black Rhinoceros is located in the eastern and southern points of the continent. The Oxpeckers and the Black Rhinoceros usually mate near the ned of the rainy season. Oxpeckers usually nest in holes usually in trees and are lined with grasses and hair plucked from the host, The Oxpeckers can usually have 2-3 eggs per breed. [2]. Rhinos on the other hand have one calf after 15 months of incubation [3].

[4]
Description of Relationship:
The Buphagus africanus or Buphagus erythrorhynchus help the Diceros bicornis by eating ticks and other parasites off the body of the rhino. This helps keep the rhino clean while feeding the bird. This shows a mutualistic relationship. Not only does the rhino receive pest control, it also receives a warning system. When the rhino is in danger the oxpecker will take off or start making loud chirping noises which alert the rhino [5]. The oxpecker's role has resulted in the given Swahili name of "askari wa kifaru"; this translates in English to "the rhino's guard" [6]. The oxpeckers do not feed exclusively on rhinos, but they do feed exclusively on the backs of large mammals such as zebras, wildebeests, buffalos, and even giraffes.
Cost/Benefit Analysis:
Buphagus africanus or Buphagus erythrorhynchus
Costs:
none
Benefits:
Feeding place
Reproduction
Diceros bicornis
Costs:
Injury- It is believed that the oxpecker keeps wounds open by eat the blood and tissue surrounding the wound. This hurts the rhinoceros and prolongs the healing time [6].
Benefits:
Pest control
Video:


[7]
References:
[1] http://www.scienceclarified.com/everyday/images/scet_03_img0305.jpg
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxpecker#Breeding
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Rhinoceros#Reproduction
[4] http://www.zulucam.org/LR/content/bin/images/large/Red_Billed_Oxpecker.jpg
[5] http://necsi.edu/projects/evolution/co-evolution/mutualistic/co-evolution_mutualistic.html
[6] http://www.ehow.com/info_8056591_symbiotic-relationships-rhinos.html
[7] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj_8eUejsVU&feature=related

7 comments:

  1. Do you know of any research where the application of the V. fischeri and squid relationship has any other scientific benefit, like in the field of medicine or technology?

    ReplyDelete
  2. you mentioned that the Buphagus africanus or Buphagus erythrorhynchus do not exclusively eat off the backs of the rhino. what do you believe would happen to the rhino if it was to become over populated with ticks? Do you think the rhino gets a larger benefit than the birds and if so do you think there are any adaptations the rhino has acquired to help it be a better target to attract these tick eating birds?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm not sure if there is any information out there about this, but I was wondering if when it is time for the oxpecker's mating season, is there a decrease in the amount of interaction with the rhino (therefore putting the rhino at risk temporally) while the birds are busy mating?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Is there a mechanism for population control of the oxpeckers? It seems they would have a constant supply of food since ticks are so plentiful, but do they compete with themselves for the ticks on the animals to control their population? Are there similar species that do the same thing as oxpeckers?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Is there any cases similar to the Labroides where there are "fake" helpers in which attack their host instead of helping them? Also is there any research showing that if the oxpeckers host is unavailable they will move to another habitat to find new hosts?

    ReplyDelete