McBurnie, K.

A comparison of cleaning stations operated by the cleaner shrimp Periclemenes pedersoni on host anemones Condylactis gigantea and Bartholomea annulata

Cleaner shrimp are commonly found throughout Caribbean coral reefs and can effectively reduce parasite loads on reef fish resulting in increased fitness of local reef fish populations. The marine cleaner shrimp, Periclemenes pedersoni, most commonly inhabits two coral reef anemones, Condylactis gigantea or Bartholomea annulata, which have different distribution patterns on reefs. C. gigantea resides on hard or rocky substrates with greater relief, whereas B. annulata lives on muddy, sandy substrates or crevices with less relief. Past studies have been done on cleaning by P. pedersoni, yet no research has been done on the effects the differing host anemones may have on cleaning interactions. Using 12 min observation periods between 13:00 -17:00 h on the fringing reef in Bonaire, number of P. pedersoni shrimp, number of clients, species of clients, and time cleaned per client were recorded for C. gigantea and B. annulata anemone cleaning stations. When compared to B. annulata, C. gigantea had significantly more P. pedersoni shrimp, which cleaned a significantly greater number of client fishes. Greater species richness of clients was observed visiting C. gigantea than B. annulata cleaning stations, however there was no difference in time spent cleaning per client. Although protected in Bonaire, aquarium trade collection of C. gigantea throughout the rest of the Caribbean may result in an overall reduction in the number of cleaning interactions occurring on the reef, potentially having detrimental effects on the health of local fish populations.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science IX (Spring 2011)19: 31-37 from CIEE Bonaire.

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