Cleaner shrimp use a rocking dance to advertise cleaning service to clients

Curr Biol. 2005 Apr 26;15(8):760-4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.02.067.

Abstract

Signals transmit information to receivers about sender attributes, increase the fitness of both parties, and are selected for in cooperative interactions between species to reduce conflict [1, 2]. Marine cleaning interactions are known for stereotyped behaviors [3-6] that likely serve as signals. For example, "dancing" and "tactile dancing" in cleaner fish may serve to advertise cleaning services to client fish [7] and manipulate client behavior [8], respectively. Cleaner shrimp clean fish [9], yet are cryptic in comparison to cleaner fish. Signals, therefore, are likely essential for cleaner shrimp to attract clients. Here, we show that the yellow-beaked cleaner shrimp [10] Urocaridella sp. c [11] uses a stereotypical side-to-side movement, or "rocking dance," while approaching potential client fish in the water column. This dance was followed by a cleaning interaction with the client 100% of the time. Hungry cleaner shrimp, which are more willing to clean than satiated ones [12], spent more time rocking and in closer proximity to clients Cephalopholis cyanostigma than satiated ones, and when given a choice, clients preferred hungry, rocking shrimp. The rocking dance therefore influenced client behavior and, thus, appears to function as a signal to advertise the presence of cleaner shrimp to potential clients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Hunger / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Observation
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Palaemonidae / physiology*
  • Perciformes / physiology
  • Symbiosis*