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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 464 - Feature article
The tentacles of the sea anemone Entacmaea quadricolor offer optimal cover for the anemonefish Amphiprion bicinctus. Photo: L. Huebner

Huebner LK, Dailey B, Titus BM, Khalaf M, Chadwick NE


Host preference and habitat segregation among Red Sea anemonefish: effects of sea anemone traits and fish life stages


Adults of the two-band anemonefish Amphiprion bicinctus preferentially inhabit bulb-tentacle sea anemones Entacmaea quadricolor, relegating juvenile fish to leathery sea anemones Heteractis crispa The fish rapidly colonize E. quadricolor that have been vacated experimentally, but not H. crispa. E. quadricolor expands more strongly in the presence of the fish than does H. crispa, and offers more flexible tentacle shapes which conceal fish of all life stages, whereas H. crispa can conceal only juvenile A. bicinctus. Competitive exclusion thus drives habitat segregation among life stages of this anemonefish. This underscores the specializations underlying symbioses between host anemones and anemonefishes.


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