Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hiding in Plain Sight

The fish on the far left is a juvenile cleaner wrasse in the act of cleaning another fish. The two fish in the middle and on the right are both bluestriped fangblennies, one in its cleaner wrasse-mimicking coloration (middle) and the other not (right). Figure from the Cheney, 2013 article in Behavioral Ecology.
Sometimes the best place to hide is right under everybody's nose. If you look like you are innocuous and you belong there, every so often you can get away with trouble.

The bluestriped fangblenny, a coral reef fish in Australia and Indonesia, takes this mimicry strategy to a whole new level. The bluestriped fangblenny doesn't simply look like another species, but it can
change its look to resemble any of three different species, depending on who happens to be around! When surrounded by olive-colored damselfish, they take on an olive hue. When surrounded by yellow anthias, they turn orangey-yellow. But their most impressive costume is that of the black and blue striped juvenile cleaner wrasse. And when they are not around a species they mimic, they revert to a brown shade and hide.

This week at Accumulating Glitches I talk about how the bluestriped fangblenny uses mimicry of juvenile cleaner wrasse to sneak up on an bite their predators! Check it out here.

And to learn more, check these out:

1. Cheney, K.L. (2013). Cleaner fish coloration decreases predation risk in aggressive fangblenny mimics Behavioral Ecology, 24 (5), 1161-1165 DOI: 10.1093/beheco/art043

2. Cheney, K.L., Skogh, C., Hart, N.S., & Marshall, N.J. (2009). Mimicry, colour forms and spectral sensitivity of the bluestriped fangblenny, Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 276, 1565-1573 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1819

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