Coral Reefs

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 991–997 | Cite as

Equivalent cleaning in a juvenile facultative and obligate cleaning wrasse: an insight into the evolution of cleaning in labrids?

  • Alexandra S. Grutter
  • William E. Feeney


Species that exhibit ontogenetic variation in interspecific cleaning behaviours may offer insights into how interspecific cooperation evolves. We investigated the foraging ecology of the yellowtail tubelip wrasse (Diproctacanthus xanthurus), a facultative cleaner as a juvenile and corallivore as an adult, and compared its juvenile ecology with that of juvenile blue-streak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus), a closely related and sympatric obligate cleaner. While juveniles of the two species differed in the amount of time they inspected clients, the number of client individuals and species that were cleaned and the proportion that posed did not differ, nor did the number of ectoparasitic isopods in their guts. In contrast, adult yellowtail tubelip wrasse had fewer isopods and more coral mucus in their guts than juveniles. These data support a hypothesized series of events in which juvenile cleaning acts as an evolutionary precursor to obligate cleaning and suggest that the yellowtail tubelip wrasse may present an intermediate between corallivory and cleaning.


Cleaning behaviour Cooperation Coral reefs Fish diet Gnathiidae Labridae 



Many thanks to M.A. Johnson for help in the field, Mahonia Na Dari Research and Conservation Centre staff for their generous assistance, Walindi Plantation Resort for support, K.A. Cheney for helpful discussions, B. Fargher for literature searches, A. Manica, F. Cortesi, J. Jolles, M. Gray, and four anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript, and R. Smith for kindly granting us permission to use his photographs. Logistical support and approval for procedures and collections were provided by Mahonia Na Dari Research and Conservation Centre. ASG was funded by the Australian Research Council, and WEF was funded by the Australian–American Fulbright Commission and the University of Queensland.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 60 kb)
338_2016_1460_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Evolutionary Ecology Group, Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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