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Difference Between Predation and Parasitism

Predation and Parasitism: An Introduction

Last updated date: 15th Mar 2023
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Both predation and parasitism are interspecies interactions. When two species interact negatively, one species suffers while the other gains. Predators play an active role in predation, whereas victims play a passive role. The parasite is the active creature in a parasitic relationship, whereas the host is the passive one. Invasive species are kept in check by predators and parasitoids. For the purpose of eradicating pests from commercially significant crops, many kinds of predators and parasitoids are raised in laboratories.

A relationship between two species known as parasitism occurs when one organism (the parasite) lives on or inside the other creature (the host), posing some risk to the host. A parasite weakens the fitness of its host while enhancing its own fitness, typically by acquiring food and shelter.


The act of consuming another organism’s tissues is known as predation in animal societies. Predation has many different meanings depending on the species, trophic level, and mode of action, hence other names like parasitism, herbivory, cannibalism, and theft have also been employed. It is an interspecific interaction in which a stronger animal known as the predator kills and eats a weaker species known as the prey. This is a biological approach to pest control. Predation is the devouring of all of another individual's body parts (the prey).

Predators can be categorised as herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. They manage the population of prey. By reducing the level of prey species’ competition, they aid in maintaining species variety in a community. Predation most frequently occurs during carnivorous interactions, in which one species eats another. Predation examples include wolves hunting moose, owls hunting mice, or shrews hunting worms and other insects.


Eating from another’s table is known as parasitism. A parasitic relationship is an obligatory partnership between two heterospecific organisms in which the parasite, who is often the smaller partner, either causes harm to its host or, in a way, survives at the expense of the host. Parasitism examples include fungi, lice, mites, leeches, tapeworm, viruses, and protozoa which parasitize humans.

Helminths are worms that can grow to be metres long and reside inside the intestines. They can result in a number of issues, including malnutrition, jaundice, diarrhoea, and even in extreme circumstances, death. There are several types of parasitism. Based on traits, dimensions, life cycles, and parasitism interaction host, it is classified into many categories.

  • Endoparasitism: Endoparasites are parasites that reside inside their host’s body, and the process is known as endoparasitism. Examples of endoparasitism include nematodes and hookworms.

  • Ectoparasitism: The phenomenon of parasites existing outside of the host’s body is referred to as ectoparasitism. Ectoparasitism is exemplified perfectly by lice and ticks.

  • Mesoparasitism: Meso Parasites are parasites that partially inhabit the host body, and mesoparasitism is the phenomenon. These parasites enter the body through a hole on the host’s external surface.

  • Brood Parasitism: A phenomenon known as “brood parasitism” occurs when a species parasitizes a host in order to raise its parasite offspring at the expense of the host. The cuckoo bird, for instance, is among the greatest illustrations of brood parasitism. It incubates its eggs on the nest of the rival bird, which subsequently rears the hatchlings. Sometimes these brood parasites also place their own eggs in the nest while destroying the eggs of other species.

  • Obligatory Parasitism: Obligate parasites must complete all stages of their life cycle on the host. They have changed over time to the point that they can no longer exist independently of the host. Obligate parasitism is a phenomenon that occurs in a wide range of organisms, including plants, mammals, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Since head lice are obligate parasites, they must remain on the human scalp, or they would soon perish.

  • Facultative Parasitism: Facultative parasites can survive without the host and only occasionally engage in parasitic behaviour; they do not require the host to complete their life cycle. A few types of animals, fungi, plants, and microorganisms can be facultative parasites. Strongyloides stercoralis, a species of nematode, serves as a specific illustration. This particular roundworm can infect people and lead to an illness called strongyloidiasis, although it can also be found surviving in the wild.

Parasitism Diagram

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Parasitism Diagram

Differences between Predation and Parasitism

Predation and parasitism are distinct from one another because predation results in the instantaneous death of the prey, while parasitism does not cause the host organism to perish. While predators feed on others, parasites ingest nutrients from their hosts and other species. In contrast to predators, endoparasites reside inside the host. In comparison to predators, parasites are typically smaller and weaker. A predator might prey on a variety of prey. A highly particular relationship is called parasitism.

In contrast to parasitism, which depends on the host organism’s metabolism, predation has no such metabolic dependence on its victim. When compared to predators, parasites have an extremely high rate of reproduction. Predation often includes animals, although all species are susceptible to parasitism. However, parasites have not been incorporated into food chains, which are topped by predators.

Interesting Facts

  • The Spinosaurus holds the distinction of being the largest land predator to have ever inhabited Earth.

  • The most ferocious predator to ever exist was the Megalodon.

  • A parasite can remain in a person for 30 years. The eggs can create cysts if you consume them because they can pass past your intestines and enter other parts of your body.

Important Questions

1. What is Symbiotic interaction?

Ans: Symbiotic interaction is the mutual interaction between two species. For example, lichen is the association of algae and fungi. Algae are photosynthetic and make food while fungi provide shelter to the algae. This association where both the species are benefited from each other is called symbiosis.

2. Why do parasites need a host?

Ans: Parasite depends on the living host for their survival as they cannot complete their life cycle without them. They acquire nutrition from them and thus do not kill the host but can spread causing fatal disease conditions.

Key Features

  • Nearly 300 parasitic worm species and more than 70 species of protozoa, some of which are descended from our primate ancestors and others which we have acquired from the domesticated or other animals we have come into touch with during our comparatively brief existence on Earth, are hosts to humans.

  • Predation and parasitism are examples of interspecific interactions in an ecosystem between two different species.

  • A few predators, like coyotes and bears, are also scavengers, which means they will consume the carcasses of animals they did not hunt.

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FAQs on Difference Between Predation and Parasitism

1. What factors influence a predator’s success?

Sharp teeth, claws, and venom are characteristics of predators that help them catch prey. Additionally, they have incredibly sensitive sense organs that enable them to locate possible prey.

2. Are parasites useful in nature?

Consider the fact that parasites are crucial in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem and the populations of their hosts. First, they exterminate some organisms while making others prey onable.

3. Which parasites are beneficial?

The health of people can be benefited by intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, hookworms, and a protist called Blastocystis.

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