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Cleaning symbioses from the parasites' perspective

  • A. S. GRUTTER (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 October 2002

Cleaning behaviour has generally been viewed from the cleaner or client's point of view. Few studies, however, have examined cleaning behaviour from the parasites' perspective, yet they are the equally-important third players in such associations. All three players are likely to have had their evolution affected by the association. As cleaner organisms are important predators of parasites, cleaners are likely to have an important effect on their prey. Little, however, is known of how parasites are affected by cleaning associations and the strategies that parasites use in response to cleaners. I examine here what parasites are involved in cleaning interactions, the effect cleaners have on parasites, the potential counter-adaptations that parasites have evolved against the predatory activities of cleaner organisms, the potential influence of cleaners on the life history traits of parasites, and other factors affected by cleaners. I have found that a wide range of ectoparasites from diverse habitats have been reported to interact with a wide range of cleaner organisms. Some of the life history traits of parasites are consistent with the idea that they are in response to cleaner predation. It is clear, however, that although many cleaning systems exist their ecological role is largely unexplored. This has likely been hindered by our lack of information on the parasites involved in cleaning interactions.

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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
  • URL: /core/journals/parasitology
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