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Social hierarchies

Size and growth modification in clownfish

Sex change is not the only way these fish achieve dominance — they grow into the role.


Conflicts of interest are part and parcel of living in a social group, although these can reduce the fitness of individual members. Here I show that clownfish (Amphiprion percula) adjust their size and growth rate according to their position in the group hierarchy, maintaining a well-defined size difference with respect to individuals above them in social rank. This strategy to prevent conflict is a surprising departure from the more usual ploy used by many animals of modifying their behaviour within the group1,2.

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Figure 1


Figure 2: Size and growth of clownfish (Amphiprion percula) in relation to rank.


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Correspondence to Peter Buston.

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Buston, P. Size and growth modification in clownfish. Nature 424, 145–146 (2003).

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