||This article may contain original research. (July 2009)|
In zoology, an inquiline (from Latin inquilinus, "lodger" or "tenant") is an animal that lives commensally in the nest, burrow, or dwelling place of an animal of another species. For example, some organisms such as insects may live in the homes of gophers and feed on debris, fungi, roots, etc. The most widely distributed types of inquiline are those found in association with the nests of social insects, especially ants and termites – a single colony may support dozens of different inquiline species. The distinctions between parasites, social parasites, and inquilines are subtle, and many species may fulfill the criteria for more than one of these, as inquilines do exhibit many of the same characteristics of parasites. However, parasites are specifically not inquilines, because by definition they have a deleterious effect on the host species, while inquilines do not.
Examples of the inquiline relation are known especially among the gall wasps (Cynipidae family). In the sub-family Synerginae this mode of life predominates. These insects differ but little in structure from the true gall-inducing wasps, but they cannot produce galls and consequently deposit their eggs within those of other species. They infest certain species of galls, such as those of the blackberry and some oak galls, in large numbers, and sometimes more than one kind occur in a single gall. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of these inquilines is their frequent close resemblance to the insect that produces the gall they infest.
The term inquiline has also been applied to aquatic invertebrates that spend all or part of their life cycles in phytotelma, water-filled structures produced by plants. For example, Wyeomyia smithii, Metriocnemus knabi, and Habrotrocha rosa are three invertebrates that make up part of the microecosystem within the pitchers of Sarracenia purpurea.
- "Inquiline". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
- Discover Life: Family Cynipidae: Subfamily Synerginae visited 1 January 2011
- Cronk, J. K.; Fennessy, M. Siobhan (2001). Wetland Plants: Biology and Ecology. p. 145.
- Cochran-Stafira, D. L. and von Ende, C. N. (1998). Integrating bacteria into food webs: studies with Sarracenia purpurea inquilines. Ecology, 79(3): 880–898.