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Proc Biol Sci. 2013 Apr 24;280(1761):20130553. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0553. Print 2013 Jun 22.

Power and temptation cause shifts between exploitation and cooperation in a cleaner wrasse mutualism.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Emile-Argand 11, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland. simon.gingins@unine.ch

Abstract

In many instances of cooperation, only one individual has both the potential and the incentive to 'cheat' and exploit its partner. Under these asymmetric conditions, a simple model predicts that variation in the temptation to cheat and in the potential victim's capacity for partner control leads to shifts between exploitation and cooperation. Here, we show that the threat of early termination of an interaction was sufficient to induce cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus to feed selectively against their preference (which corresponds to cooperatively eating client fish ectoparasites), provided that their preference for alternative food was weak. Under opposite conditions, cleaners fed selectively according to their own preference (which corresponds to cheating by eating client mucus). By contrast, a non-cleaning fish species, Halichoeres melanurus, failed to adjust its foraging behaviour under these same conditions. Thus, cleaners appear to have evolved the power to strategically adjust their levels of cooperation according to the circumstances.

PMID:
23615288
PMCID:
PMC3652443
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2013.0553
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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