Protocooperation between African crocodile and toothpick bird

Definition - what it is

Protocooperation is a harmonic (no harm to any individual) and interspecific ecological relationship (between individuals of different species) in which benefits occur for all beings involved, and they can live independently.

It is an optional relationship, because although individuals benefit, it is not indispensable to their lives.


First example

Protocooperation between the African crocodile and the toothpick bird. While the crocodile sleeps with its mouth open during the digestion process, the stick bird eats parasites and leftovers from the reptile's mouth.

Both animals benefit from this ecological relationship as the toothpick bird gets food while the crocodile gets a mouth clean. But, these animals do not depend on this relationship to live.

Second example

Protocooperation between the sea anemone and the paguro (crab)

In this relationship, the anemone is installed on the crab shell, allowing this protection against predators. On the other hand, the anemone gets transport, thus facilitating the obtaining of food.

Difference from mutualism

In both ecological relations beings benefit. The difference is that in mutualism individuals have a dependency relationship. In protocooperation this dependence does not exist.