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Queiroz AC, Sakai Y, Vallinoto M, Barros B. (2016) Morphometric comparisons of plant-mimetic juvenile fish associated with plant debris observed on Kuchierabu-jima Island, southern Japan. PeerJ PrePrints4:e1673v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.1673v1
The general morphological shape of plant-resembling fish and plant parts were compared using a geometric morphometrics approach. Lobotes surinamensis (Lobotidae), Platax orbicularis (Ephippidae) and Canthidermis maculata (Balistidae), three plant-mimetic fish species, were compared during their early developmental stages with accompanying plant parts (i.e. leaves of several taxa) in the coastal subtropical waters of Kuchierabu-jima Island, closely facing the Kuroshio Current. The degree of similarity shared between the plant parts and co-occurring fish species was quantified, however fish remained morphologically distinct from their plant models. Such similarities were corroborated by a linear model, in which relative body areas of fish and plant models were strongly interdependent. Our results strengthen the paradigm that morphological clues can lead to ecological evidence to allow predictions of behavioural and habitat choice by mimetic fish, according to the degree of similarity shared with their respective models. The resemblance to plant parts detected in the three fish species may provide fitness advantages via convergent evolutionary effects.
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Map of Kuchierabu-Jima Island (A), with the port of Honmura (B), where mimetic fish were observed drifting along with plant debris (C)
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