Predation vs Parasitism: Difference and Comparison

There exist several biological factors in the environment. There are several biological interactions, ecosystems, biotic and abiotic factors, natural resources, animals, food chains etc.

Nature always finds a way to maintain a balance between all the biotic and abiotic factors that exist on the planet. These several interactions eventually build up into an ecosystem.

Various plants and animals perform the role of various stages in these ecosystems and, thereby, in several food chains. These stages or level includes producers, consumers etc.

However, the carnivores that exist in a certain food chain or any other being thrives and exist by gaining their nutrition by feeding on other organisms.

Two of such interactions that take place when an organism gains its nutrition by feeding on other organisms include 1. Predation, and 2. Parasitism.

Key Takeaways

  1. Predation is a relationship in which one organism (the predator) kills and eats another organism (the prey) for food.
  2. Parasitism is a relationship in which one organism (the parasite) lives on or inside another organism (the host) and benefits at the host’s expense.
  3. Both predation and parasitism are examples of ecological interactions that can significantly impact populations and ecosystems.

Predation vs Parasitism

The difference between predation and parasitism is their meaning or definition. The biological interaction in which a larger living organism kills another smaller or large living organism and feeds on it is known as predation. On the other hand, the biological interaction in which the parasite is smaller than the host is known as parasitism.

Predation vs Parasitism
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The biological interaction in which a larger living organism kills another smaller or large living organism and feeds on it is known as predation. The predator searches for its prey, assess whether to attack it or not ambushes the prey.

Once the attack is successful, the prey is killed and eaten by the predator. But before eating the prey, the predator makes sure that all the inedible parts, like spines and shells, are removed.

The biological interaction in which the parasite is smaller than the host is known as parasitism. Parasitism is also considered a consumer-resource interaction.

Parasites are much smaller than their hosts, and for an extended period, they live inside or outside of the host. Another fact about parasites is that they reproduce at a much higher speed than their hosts.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPredationParasitism
Meaning / DefinitionThe biological interaction in which a larger living organism kills another smaller or large living organism and feeds on it is predation. The biological interaction in which the parasite is smaller than the host is known as parasitism.
ProcessesNo metabolic dependency is present between predators and prey.There exist a metabolic dependency between the parasite and the host.
Life cyclePredators do not depend on the prey for the completion of their life cycle. Parasites are indirectly dependent on the host and complete their life cycle inside the hosts.
Physical AppearanceThe predator is larger or has a bigger frame than the prey.The parasite is smaller or has a smaller frame than the host.
ExamplesLion and zebra, Fox and rabbit, Bear and fish etc.Stem parasites in plants called Cuscuta, Ectoparasites like lice that thrive on humans as well as animals like cows, Endoparasites like tapeworm that lives inside the intestine of humans and animals like cows.

What is Predation?

The biological interaction in which a larger living organism kills another smaller or large living organism and feeds on it is known as predation. It is one of the known feeding behaviours that is seen in living organisms.

This behaviour is seen in various plants, mammals, birds and other living organisms. The predator is the one that searches and kills another living organism, and the living organism that is killed and eaten by the predator is known as the prey.

The predator searches for its prey, assess whether to attack it or not ambushes the prey. Once the attack is successful, the prey is killed and eaten by the predator.

But before eating the prey, the predator makes sure that all the inedible parts, like spines and shells, are removed.

The predators possess some highly precise skills that they out to use while hunting for the prey. They have some other physical features and body parts that help them while hunting.

The skills and senses include vision, hearing and smell. However, many predators have claws and jaws that help them to catch a firm grip on the prey. To improve efficiency, other adaptations include stealth and aggression.

Various examples of predation include wolves and moose, owls and mice, shrews and worms, lion and zebra, bear and fish, fox and rabbit, bear and berry, rabbit and lettuce, grasshopper and leaf, snake and rats, lion and deer, orca and seals, orca and walruses etc.

However, the predation seen in mammals and birds is very well known, but it is also witnessed among plants like Venus flytraps, pitcher plants etc.

predation

What is Parasitism?

The biological interaction in which the parasite is smaller than the host is known as parasitism. Parasitism is also considered a consumer-resource interaction.

They either live inside the host or outside the host. They are either ectoparasites or endoparasites. They are much smaller than the host and have a smaller frame.

The parasites, for an extended period, live inside or outside of the host. Another fact about parasites is that they reproduce at a much higher speed than their hosts.

There exist six major strategies of parasites. They use these strategies for the exploitation of the host. They also show various adaptations and behaviours. The six strategies differ slightly from each other.

These six strategies include castration, direct contact, tropical contact, vector transmission, parasitoids, micro predation etc. Parasites are highly specialised.

They don’t kill their host, but they thrive in or on them. They make the host experience a gradual increase in pain and suffering, thus reducing their fitness.

Various examples of endoparasites include nematodes, helminths, tapeworms etc.

Various examples of ectoparasites include brown dog tick, itch mite, dog flea, cat flea, deer tick, crab louse, pigeon tick, poultry wing louse, hyalomma rufipes, Ixodes brunneus etc.

Endoparasites live inside the host. On the other hand, the ectoparasites live outside the host.

parasitism

Main Differences Between Predation and Parasitism

  1. In predation, the predator is huge than the prey in its physical appearance. On the other hand, in parasitism, the parasite is much smaller in its physical appearance than the host.
  2. The two main characters in the predation are the predator and the prey. On the other hand, the two main characters in parasitism are the parasite and the host.
  3. The life cycle of a predator is not dependent on the prey, and the predator completes its life cycle. On the other hand, the life cycle of the parasite is defendant by the host, and generally, the parasite completes its life cycle in the host.
  4. The predator is aggressive, swift, active and intense whenever efforts are needed to catch the prey. On the other hand, the parasite is slow, steady and passive when it thrives in or on the host.
  5. Various examples of predation include lion and zebra, bear and fish, snake and rats etc., on the other hand, examples of parasitism include stem parasites like Cuscuta living inside plants, endoparasites like tapeworm that live inside human’s intestines and also inside animals like cows.
Difference Between Predation and Parasitism
References
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=WJDnCAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP6&dq=predation&ots=-UDAyX8aJu&sig=JkO6V2h1nxgQip8N6oJr4Z_5-xQ
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LovrfCYloxgC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=parasitism&ots=DweW_-caoj&sig=hOLEPSJ0glGz2oXhchvj2iSxuiE

Last Updated : 24 July, 2023

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22 thoughts on “Predation vs Parasitism: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The detailed explanation of what predation entails is enlightening. Learning about the skills and adaptations of predators showcases the complexity of nature’s design.

  2. As a nature enthusiast, learning about predation and parasitism enhances my understanding of the interconnectedness of all living organisms within an ecosystem.

    1. Absolutely, observing the diverse interactions between species sheds light on the intricate web of nature’s processes.

  3. Predation and parasitism are key biological interactions that help maintain balance in ecosystems around the world. These processes are fascinating and essential for the survival of various species.

    1. I completely agree. It’s incredible to see how different organisms have adapted to their roles as predators or parasites.

  4. Predation and parasitism play crucial roles in maintaining ecological balance. It’s intriguing to learn about the various processes and life cycles involved.

  5. The concept of predation and parasitism is elucidated with clarity. This article provides valuable insights into the mechanisms that drive ecological stability.

    1. Avatar of Palmer Anthony
      Palmer Anthony

      Indeed, understanding these ecological interactions is crucial for appreciating the beauty and complexity of biodiversity.

    2. The detailed exploration of predation and parasitism brings forth a deeper understanding of the delicate balance within ecosystems.

  6. The vital differences between predation and parasitism are presented clearly, facilitating a deeper appreciation of these ecological interactions.

    1. The examples provided serve as excellent illustrations of how predation and parasitism contribute to the ecological balance.

  7. The comparison table between predation and parasitism effectively highlights their differences, aiding in better comprehension of these ecological interactions.

  8. The comparison between predation and parasitism is very informative. Understanding the differences between these two interactions can provide great insight into the natural world.

    1. Absolutely, knowing the nuances between these interactions is important for studying the environmental dynamics.

    2. The examples provided really help in distinguishing between predation and parasitism. It shows how these interactions manifest in different ecosystems.

  9. The predator-prey relationship and parasite-host interaction are fundamental aspects of the natural world. They are essential for the survival of diverse species within an ecosystem.

  10. The article provides an in-depth understanding of predation and parasitism, showcasing the intricacies of nature’s ecological processes.

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