The question is straight. Do plants need animals? In very simple words, YES! Plants need animals for various purposes like pollination and scattering of seeds from parent plants to other places. So what’s the process? How do plants need animals? Is there any chance that plants could survive without coming in contact with animals or human beings?
You may be thinking that plants have been on earth way before animals, so how did those plants use to survive? That is not completely true, as small animals like insects have always been an important part of plants’ growth for several reasons.
In this article, we will provide you with answers to all of your questions. Stick with use to end.
Why do Plants Need Animals to Survive?
There is always one thing required to keep the ball rolling and that is BALANCE. The survival of both plants and animals is linked with each other naturally. You should ask here that it is a known fact that plants are autotrophs, meaning that they can completely survive on their own. So, why do plants need animals in the first place if they are autotrophs?
Plants need only the basics to survive and reproduce, which are sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water, none of these things are linked to animals in any way, and that is correct and but not completely. The plants can asexually reproduce and create their own food by photosynthesis, and they can do it for a long time.
But everything has its limits. How long do you think they can keep doing this? If the plants kept on reproducing, then after a period of time they will run out of space and basic resources. Plants need animals for pollination and seed scattering.
We will be referring to all the birds and insects as animals in this article. So, animals like Bees, Butterflies, bats, hummingbirds, etc, pollinate the plants. The Anther(male part of the flower) of plants gets attached to the bodies of the pollinating animals.
So when those animals fly to other plants those anthers detach themselves to other plants’ Stigma(female part of the flower) and start the fertilization process.
That is one of the most important reasons plants need animals for survival. Although, it is true that plants can self pollinate to reproduce, but it will have a drawback In the near future. Due to plants’ anthers fertilizing the same plants’ stigmas will soon cause overpopulation of plants in a very limited area. You can imagine what will happen next. Civil War for resources!
The second reason why plants need animals is for sprinkling the seeds. Relatively large animals like Elephants, dogs, squirrels, sea turtles, etc. How do they do that? It is simple to understand. The seeds of the plants are eaten by these animals and as those animals poop while traveling away from the plants, the seeds are naturally sowed in soil, and that is how biodiversity is maintained.
You can say that plants have kept these animals as their delivery guys. Animals like elephants have larger hunger than others, so they have to travel miles to keep up with the energy, thus the plant seeds are scattered in miles, because of that. This is why plants need animals for survival.
The Symbiotic Plant and Animal Relationships:
The symbiotic relationship between plants and animals is old and strong. Both the species depend on each other for their survival. First of all, what is symbiosis?
What is Symbiosis?
Symbiosis can be defined as a relationship or interaction between two different parties. That relation can be of any kind like commensalism, mutualistic, or any other. Any type of interaction between two completely different species is known as symbiosis.
We are talking about the symbiosis between plants and animals. How do they interact? How many kinds of symbiosis do they have? How can those kinds be defined?
The first and simplest is Predation, it is the kind of symbiosis when an organism, let’s say animals, eats or consumes other organisms(plants). Like all the herbivore animals consume plants, and all the carnivore animals survive by consuming other animals. Carnivore plants that eat small insects are also found in the plant kingdom, they do this to fulfill their nitrogen requirement, due to the poor quality of their soil.
Second is Commensalism, it is the kind in which one party gets all the benefits of interactions and the other party is not harmed or benefitted in any way. Just the Air plants, which grow on the tree and they don’t affect the trees in any way, neither positive nor negative. But once they get too heavy, it is likely that that part of the tree will fall as well.
The third one is Parasitism, the kind of symbiosis in which the host is negatively affected by the parasite. Meaning that the parasite enjoys all the benefits of the symbiotic relationship and the host pays for it. But unlike the predation, the host is not consumed completely, as the parasites are almost always smaller than the host.
Number fourth is Mutualism, the symbiosis in which both parties enjoy the benefits of their interaction. The best example of this type is pollination, as you have read above. The plants benefit by reproducing and the animals benefit from food consumption.
Parasitic Plant-Animal Relationship:
The parasitic relationship also called Parasitism, is the interaction between host and parasite. In this relation, the parasite has all the advantages and the host pays for this unjust interaction. There are two types of parasitism: Internal and External.
Internal parasitism is when worms live inside the host and External parasitism is when leeches or other parasites attach themselves with the host from outside.
What do Plants need from Animals?
Plants need animals. That is proven. But what exactly do the plants need from animals? You know the answer, they need pollination and seed scattering. Plants need animals to help them reproduce when animals sit on plant flowers the pollen gets attached to their bodies which are then carried by those animals to other flowers for reproduction purposes.
Animals consume plant seeds and excrete them out to naturally sow those seeds in the soil, sometimes mile away from the parent plants.
What do Animals need from Plants?
Basically, animals need everything from plants to survive. Herbivore animals eat plants, and carnivore animals eat the herbivores, so if we take plants out of the equation, then no more herbivores and no herbivores mean no carnivores, got it?
Apart from food, plants provide shelter and oxygen for animals and human beings to breathe. Plants need animals and animals need plants. Simple.
Concluding point of the article, every living being’s survival is connected with other living beings, one way or another. Plants are called the producers and all the other living beings are primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers.
The plants can NOT survive without animals. As they need them for growth and reproduction, as you have read above. That is why saying that plants can go off on their own, would be wrong.
Apart from all this, plants require a sufficient amount of nitrogen, rich soil nutrients, water, and of course sunlight for photosynthesis. Thanks.