Distance-dependent costs and benefits of aggressive mimicry in a cleaning symbiosis

Isabelle M. Cote, Karen L. Cheney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)


In aggressive mimicry, a ‘predatory’ species resembles a model that is harmless or beneficial to a third species, the ‘dupe’. We tested critical predictions of Batesian mimicry models, i.e. that benefits of mimicry to mimics and costs of mimicry to models should be experienced only when model and mimic co–occur, in an aggressive mimicry system involving juvenile bluestreaked cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) as models and bluestriped fangblennies (Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos) as mimics. Cleanerfish mimics encountered nearly twice as many potential victims and had higher striking rates when in proximity to than when away from the model. Conversely, in the presence of mimics, juvenile cleaner wrasses were visited by fewer clients and spent significantly less time foraging. The benefits to mimic and costs to model thus depend on a close spatial association between model and mimic. Batesian mimicry theory may therefore provide a useful initial framework to understand aggressive mimicry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2627-2630
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1557
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2004

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