Temporary synergistic co-operation
Another approach which appears to be part of this strategy is 'synergistic agglomeration'.
A synergistic agglomeration is one where two different species co-operate in order to increase functionality. Whereas 'co-operation' occurs between individuals within the same species, 'synergistic relationships' occur between individuals of different species.
In a synergistic relationship, each species looks after the other in return for increasing the totality of the two species' functionality. Each partner is not however, dependant for its continued existence on the other organism. Thus if one dies, the other could, as it were, move on or survive without it. This is in contrast to the symbiotic relationship in which survival is dependent on the other organism.
The increase in functionality obtained depends of course on the grouping.
Some examples of synergistic co-operation include man and the canary down mines; man and his deaf or blind guide dog; man and the horse; man and the hunting hawk; man and his domestication of sheep, goats, cows, plants and so on for food; and termites looking after their fungus gardens.
Ocellaris clownfish that dwell among the tentacles of Ritteri sea anenomes also have a synergistic relationship with them. The territorial fish protects the anemone from anemone-eating fish, and in turn the stinging tentacles of the anemone protect the clownfish from its predators. A special mucus on the clownfish protects it from the stinging tentacles. [source: Wikipedia]
Another example, the goby fish sometimes lives together with a shrimp. The shrimp digs and cleans up a burrow in the sand in which both the shrimp and the goby fish live. The shrimp is almost blind leaving it vulnerable to predators when above ground. In case of danger the goby fish touches the shrimp with its tail to warn it. When that happens both the shrimp and goby fish quickly retract into the burrow.
Synergy also played a major role in the evolution of flowering plants and the creatures that pollinate them. Many plants are pollinated by insects, bats and birds, all of which benefit from the relationship, but at the same time are not dependent for their survival on there being a close permanent bond.
Some flowers add function in order to attract certain insects, birds or bats. They add specialized flowers modified to promote pollination by a specific pollinator. In turn, the pollinator may themselves add function to ensure easier pollination. The first flowering plants in the fossil record had relatively simple flowers. As pollinators evolved, function was added to plants in the form of nectar and pollen. This in turn caused insects to evolve more specialised functions and hence forms, to access and collect the richer food sources. So synergistic relationships can be huge drivers of functional increase.
One could argue that in some cases of synergetic relationships, no apparent overall increase in functionality occurs, but this is only because the increase is not immediately apparent, or the increase happens over time – the trained horse, for example, is able to 'perform' more functions than it can in the wild, as can a trained dog and they are new functions.
This stunning image is actually five women decorated by world champion body-painter Johannes Stötter to look like an amphibian.
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