Fish mucous cocoons: The ‘mosquito nets’ of the sea

Grutter, Alexandra S., Rumney, Jennifer G., Sinclair-Taylor, Tane, Waldie, Peter and Franklin, Craig E. (2011) Fish mucous cocoons: The ‘mosquito nets’ of the sea. Biology Letters, 7 2: 292-294. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.0916

Author Grutter, Alexandra S.
Rumney, Jennifer G.
Sinclair-Taylor, Tane
Waldie, Peter
Franklin, Craig E.
Title Fish mucous cocoons: The ‘mosquito nets’ of the sea
Journal name Biology Letters   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1744-9561
Publication date 2011-04-23
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0916
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 7
Issue 2
Start page 292
End page 294
Total pages 3
Place of publication London, U.K.
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Language eng
Abstract Mucus performs numerous protective functions in vertebrates, and in fishes may defend them against harmful organisms, although often the evidence is contradictory. The function of the mucous cocoons that many parrotfishes and wrasses sleep in, while long used as a classical example of antipredator behaviour, remains unresolved. Ectoparasitic gnathiid isopods (Gnathiidae), which feed on the blood of fish, are removed by cleaner fish during the day; however, it is unclear how parrotfish and wrasse avoid gnathiid attacks at night. To test the novel hypothesis that mucous cocoons protect against gnathiids, we exposed the coral reef parrotfish Chlorurus sordidus (Scaridae) with and without cocoons to gnathiids overnight and measured the energetic content of cocoons. Fish without mucous cocoons were attacked more by gnathiids than fish with cocoons. The energetic content of mucous cocoons was estimated as 2.5 per cent of the fish's daily energy budget fish. Therefore, mucous cocoons protected against attacks by gnathiids, acting like mosquito nets in humans, a function of cocoons and an efficient physiological adaptation for preventing parasite infestation that is not used by any other animal. Copyright © The Royal Society 2011
Keyword Coral reefs
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Created: Sun, 13 Mar 2011, 23:35:38 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences