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Three-way symbiotic relationships in whale sharks

Norman, B.M., Reynolds, S.D. and Morgan, D.L. (2021) Three-way symbiotic relationships in whale sharks. Pacific Conservation Biology, 28 (1). pp. 80-83.

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Abstract

Symbiotic relationships between fishes and other organisms are not always easily defined, and three-way symbiotic relationships are rarely reported. Here we examine the relationship between the endangered whale shark, echeneids (remoras and sharksuckers) and a symbiotic copepod. Through their symbiosis with whale sharks, sharksuckers gain one food source from the host’s parasites and energetically-free transportation to foraging areas, where they are also able to feed on the prey targeted by their hosts. The relationship between whale sharks and sharksuckers is complex, and most accurately described as mutualism. Likewise, the whale shark and copepod relationship is also complex, and could be described as a parasitic relationship with commensal or even mutualistic characteristics. Although echeneids are not considered to form host-specific relationships and can be free-ranging, the whale shark copepod occurs only on whale sharks; its survival inextricably linked to that of its host.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems
Harry Butler Institute
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © 2022 CSIRO.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/64154
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