The personality behind cheating: behavioural types and the feeding ecology of cleaner fish

Wilson, Alexander, Krause, Jens, Herbert-Read, James E. and Ward, Ashley J. W. 2014, The personality behind cheating: behavioural types and the feeding ecology of cleaner fish, Ethology : international jouran of behavioural biology, vol. 120, no. 9, pp. 904-912, doi: 10.1111/eth.12262.

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Title The personality behind cheating: behavioural types and the feeding ecology of cleaner fish
Author(s) Wilson, Alexander
Krause, Jens
Herbert-Read, James E.
Ward, Ashley J. W.
Journal name Ethology : international jouran of behavioural biology
Volume number 120
Issue number 9
Start page 904
End page 912
Total pages 9
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Place of publication Chichester, Eng.
Publication date 2014-09
ISSN 0179-1613
Keyword(s) mutualism
behavioural syndromes
Labroides dimidiatus
game theory
Summary The complex mutualistic relationship between the cleaner fish (Labroides dimidiatus) and their 'clients' in many reef systems throughout the world has been the subject of debate and research interest for decades. Game-theory models have long struggled with explaining how the mixed strategies of cheating and honesty might have evolved in such a system and while significant efforts have been made theoretically, demonstrating the nature of this relationship empirically remains an important research challenge. Using the experimental framework of behavioural syndromes, we sought to quantitatively assess the relationship between personality and the feeding ecology of cleaner fish to provide novel insights into the underlying mechanistic basis of cheating in cleaner-client interactions. First, we observed and filmed cleaner fish interactions with heterospecifics, movement patterns and general feeding ecology in the wild. We then captured and measured all focal individuals and tested them for individual consistency in measures of activity, exploration and risk taking (boldness) in the laboratory. Our results suggest a syndrome incorporating aspects of personality and foraging effort are central components of the behavioural ecology of L. dimidiatus on the Great Barrier Reef. We found that individuals that exhibited greater feeding effort tended to cheat proportionately less and move over smaller distances relative to bolder more active, exploratory individuals. Our study demonstrates for the first time that individual differences in personality might be mechanistically involved in explaining how the mixed strategies of cheating and honesty persist in cleaner fish mutualisms.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/eth.12262
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
060801 Animal Behaviour
060807 Animal Structure and Function
0608 Zoology
1701 Psychology
0603 Evolutionary Biology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, Blackwell Verlag GmbH
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