Aggressive mimicry and other interspecific feeding associations among Red Sea coral reef predators

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Abstract

A description is given of the range of interspecific feeding associations used by fish predators on a coral reef in the Sudanese Red Sea. The types of association observed are classified as (i) following and scavenging, (ii) hunting by “riding”, (iii) hunting by aggressive mimicry and (iv) joint hunting. In particular quantitative accounts are given for previously un-described examples of the use of riding by Diploprion drachi and Cheilinus diagrammus, and of the use of aggressive mimicry by Cheilinus diagrammus and Epibulus insidiator. These two examples of aggressive mimicry involve colour change by the mimic which then associates with the species which it is mimicking. The frequency of the occurrence of joint hunting involving Gomphosus caeruleus and Parupeneus chryseredros or P. macronema is also described. In all, 24 species of predator were observed involved in one or more of these forms of feeding association. It is noted that some of these predators make use of these associations very frequently during feeding, and that they may associate with a selection of other species depending on their availability.

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