Sexual dimorphism and food habits of the clingfish, Diademichthys lineatus, and its dependence on host sea urchin

Synopsis

Stomach contents of the clingfish Diademichthys lineatus, 10–56 mm standard length, revealed changes in food habits with growth and sexual differences. Soon after settlement, D. lineatus obtained food from their host sea urchin (genus Diadema) and other associated symbionts. They became less dependent on the host with growth. The juveniles ate pedicellariae and sphaeridia of the host and commensal copepods, whereas the adult fish ate burrowing bivalves in corals as well as tube feet of their host and eggs of a commensal shrimp. The young fish were transitional in their food habits. The change in food habits of the fish coincided with behavioral changes; i.e. enlargement of home ranges and less dependency on the host. The adult females, having a longer snout, ate shrimp eggs and bivalves more frequently than the adult males, which ate tube feet of the host more often than the females did. Sexual difference in food habits was apparent after the sex of the fish became identifiable by comparing snout shapes. The polygynous mating system of this species suggests that conspicuous sexual dimorphism might have developed under sexual selection. However, niche partitioning of food is also likely to be related to this sexual dimorphism.

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Sakashita, H. Sexual dimorphism and food habits of the clingfish, Diademichthys lineatus, and its dependence on host sea urchin. Environ Biol Fish 34, 95–101 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00004787

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Key words

  • Gobiesocidae
  • Symbiosis
  • Nutritional dependency on the host
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Niche partitioning