Male cleaner wrasses adjust punishment of female partners according to the stakes

Raihani, Nichola J., Pinto, Ana I., Grutter, Alexandra S., Wismer, Sharon and Bshary, Redouan (2012) Male cleaner wrasses adjust punishment of female partners according to the stakes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences, 279 1727: 365-370. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.0690

Author Raihani, Nichola J.
Pinto, Ana I.
Grutter, Alexandra S.
Wismer, Sharon
Bshary, Redouan
Title Male cleaner wrasses adjust punishment of female partners according to the stakes
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0962-8452
Publication date 2012-01-22
Year available 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2011.0690
Volume 279
Issue 1727
Start page 365
End page 370
Total pages 6
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Punishment is an important deterrent against cheating in cooperative interactions. In humans, the severity of cheating affects the strength of punishment which, in turn, affects the punished individual’s future behaviour. Here, we show such flexible adjustments for the first time in a non-hman species, the cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus), where males are known to punish female partners.We exposed pairs of cleaners to a model client offering two types of food, preferred ‘prawn’ items and less-preferred ‘flake’ items. Analogous to interactions with real clients, eating a preferred prawn item (‘cheating’) led to model client removal. We varied the extent to which female cheating caused pay-off reduction to the male and measured the corresponding severity of male punishment. Males punished females more severely when females cheated during interactions with high value, rather than low value, model clients; and when females were similar in size to the male. This pattern may arise because, in this protogynous hermaphrodite, cheating by similar-sized females may reduce size differences to the extent that females change sex and become reproductive competitors. In response to more severe punishment from males, females behaved more cooperatively. Our results show that punishment can be adjusted to circumstances and that such subtleties can have an important bearing on the outcome of cooperative interactions.
Keyword Cleaner fish
Labroides dimidiatus
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online before print 15 June 2011.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 21 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 08 Sep 2011, 00:14:34 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences