Difference Between Predation and Parasitism (With Table)

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 exists 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.

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 generally smaller than the host is known as parasitism.

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 generally 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 Between Predation and Parasitism

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 generally 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 generally complete their life cycle inside the hosts.
Physical AppearanceThe predator is generally larger or has a bigger frame than the prey.The parasite is generally 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 over 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.

What is Parasitism?

The biological interaction in which the parasite is generally 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, trophical contact, vector-transmission, parasitiodism, micro predation etc. Parasites are highly specialised. They don’t kill their host, but they thrive in or on them. They make the host experienced a gradual increase in the pain and suffering this reducing their fitness.

Various examples of endoparasites include nematodes, helminthes, 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.

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 the parasitism are the parasite and the host.
  3. The life cycle of a predator is not dependant 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 generally aggressive, swift, active and intense whenever the 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, the examples of parasitism include stem parasites like Cuscuta living inside the plants, endoparasites like tapeworm that live inside human’s intestine and also inside animals like cows.

Conclusion

Both predation and parasitism are two of the main biological interactions. They have their significance and play an important role in the maintenance of the ecosystem and nature in general.

Predators and parasites help in maintaining the population of the prey and thereby help in controlling the spread of various diseases.

We as humans must do our bit in the conservation and protection of nature and natural resources as we too are dependant on the natural resources for our survival, and nature plays an important role in providing numerous things to human beings.

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
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