MEPS 177:213-220 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/meps177213

Patterns of cleaner wrasse density among three regions of the Pacific

Céline Arnal1,*, Serge Morand1, Michel Kulbicki2

1Centre de Biologie et d'Ecologie Tropicale et Méditerranéenne, Laboratoire de Biologie Animale (UMR 5555 CNRS), Université de Perpignan, F-66860 Perpignan Cedex, France
2ORSTOM B.P. A5, Nouméa, New Caledonia

ABSTRACT: Despite years of studies, cleaning interactions between cleaner and host fishes are still not well understood. Relating density of cleaner wrasse with fish species richness, density and biomass across different geographic localities may help to better understand cleaner/host fish relationships. In this study, we explored the patterns of variation in cleaner wrasse densities among 3 regions of the Pacific. An increasing gradient of cleaner wrasse density was observed from Ouvéa (West Pacific) to Tuamotu (Central Pacific). This increasing density followed a decreasing gradient in the density of other reef fishes. Within each locality, densities of cleaner wrasse were positively correlated with densities of reef fishes. In order to better understand the underlying influences on the density of cleaner wrasse, the densities of reef fishes were examined in relationship to fish body size, fish sedentary, territorial and mobile behavior, and gregariousness. We showed that there is no relationship between the density of cleaner wrasse and host fish sedentary, territorial or mobile behavior, but that there are positive relationships with both host fish body size and host gregariousness. We hypothesize that the positive relationships are closely linked with fish ectoparasite loads.


KEY WORDS: Cleaner fish · Labroides spp. · Biogeography · Indo-Pacific · Fish density · Fish body size · Fish gregariousness


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