Meeting Abstract

S10-7  Thursday, Jan. 7 11:30  The Ontogeny of Cleaning in Fishes: Scaling Patterns Underlie Shifts in Feeding Strategy. BALIGA, Vikram B*; MEHTA, Rita S; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Univ. of California, Santa Cruz vbaliga@ucsc.edu

Body shape plays a crucial role in the movement of organisms. In the aquatic environment, body shape and the underlying axial skeleton components reflect the ability of organisms to propel and maneuver through water. Ontogenetic shifts in ecology (e.g. changes in habitat or feeding mode) may coincide with significant changes in body shape allometry. We use the evolution of cleaning behavior in the Labridae (wrasses & parrotfishes) as a case study. Cleaner fishes are species that remove and consume ectoparasites from other organisms. In many cases, cleaning involves a high degree of maneuverability, as cleaners on the hunt for parasites may continuously dart around the body of their clients. In the Labridae, at least 58 species are known to clean. Over two-thirds of these species, however, clean predominately as juveniles, exhibiting an ontogenetic shift away from cleaning as they enter adulthood. We examine features of the axial skeleton and pectoral fins in 31 species of labrids to assess how scaling patterns in these systems are associated with the ontogeny of cleaning behavior.