Symbiosis is the interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association. Symbiotic relationships are common, diverse and rich among ants.
- Mutualism is a form of symbiosis which is beneficial to both organisms involved.
- Commensalism is an association between two organisms in which one benefits and the other derives neither benefit nor harm.
- Parasitism is a relationship between two species in which one benefits at the expense of the other, sometimes without killing the host organism.
While these definitions appear definitive, reality is slightly more complex. While some species of ants fall within these categories, others fall between them, making clear classification difficult or arbitrary. In fact, these categories are better treated as points along a continuum or within a multidimensional space, rather than clearly defined end-points.
The following topics explore ant symbiotic relationships in further detail: