Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 74, Issue 2, pp 119–127 | Cite as

Comparative Ecology of the Gobies Nes longus and Ctenogobius saepepallens, Both Symbiotic with the Snapping Shrimp Alpheus floridanus

  • John E. Randall
  • Phillip S. Lobel
  • Christine W. Kennedy


We re-examined the symbiotic association of the western Atlantic gobiid fishes Nes longus and Ctenogobius saepepallens with the snapping shrimp Alpheus floridanus on the basis of a critical literature review and new data. Our research confirms that N. longus interacts closely with the shrimp and is dependent on it for the cover provided by the burrow that the shrimp constructs; the goby serves as the sentinel at the burrow entrance. Ctenogobius saepepallens is often seen occupying a burrow of the alpheid, and the shrimp will leave the burrow to deposit sediment with the goby at the entrance, even pushing the goby aside at times. However, the shrimp does not make contact with the goby with its antennae, nor does the goby communicate with caudal fin fluttering at the approach of danger. We suggest that their relationship is a first step in an evolutionary process that may lead to the very close mutualistic association exhibited by N. longus and the alpheid, as well as Indo-Pacific shrimp gobies of 13 different genera and their alpheid partners. Nes longus remains close to the burrow entrance; it feeds mainly on small gastropods, decapod crustaceans, ostracods, and isopods. By contrast, C. saepepallens makes longer excusions from the shelter of the burrow; its diet is dominated by benthic copepods, followed by ostracods and lesser amounts of foraminiferans, isopods, and decapod crustaceans. By virture of its greater mobility, it can be more selective in its prey.


Symbiosis alpheid shrimp western Atlantic gobies 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Randall
    • 1
  • Phillip S. Lobel
    • 2
  • Christine W. Kennedy
    • 3
  1. 1.Bishop MuseumHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Marine Biological LaboratoryBoston University Marine ProgramWoods, HoleUSA
  3. 3.Christine W. KennedyNew FreedomUSA

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