Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Preliminary research

Mutualism is defined as the interaction of two species of organisms that benefits both. Obligate mutualists survive only by association; facultative mutualists, while benefitting from the presence of one another, may also survive in the absence of each other. I am beginning preliminary research to further understand the mutualistic relationship between clownfish and sea anemones. 

Several theories exist as to the ways in which these organisms help one another:
  • The territorial clownfish protect the anemone from anemone-eating fish.
  • The stinging tentacles of the anemone protect the clownfish from its predators, while a mucus layer on the clownfish protects it from the stinging tentacles.
  • The clownfish lures in other fish that are stung and consumed by the anemone.
  • The clownfish increases oxygenation around the anemone and removes its waste material.
I am interested in determining through mathematical modeling whether clownfish and sea anemones are facultative, obligate, or obligate-with-thresholds mutualists and whether or not their mutualism is symmetric. I will also investigate how the size of the anemone and the number of clownfish residing within the anemone's tentacles affect each other.

To be determined:
  • which species of clownfish to focus on: Amphiprion ocellaris (common clownfish) or Amphiprion percula (true clownfish)
  • which species of anemone to focus on: Heteractis magnifica (Ritteri anemone) or Stichodactyla gigantea (giant carpet anemone) 
  • what type of model to implement

1 comment:

swapnil said...


Your blog has been extremely instrumental in supplementing my research paper which bridges the theory of a natural occurence like facultative mutualism and the management concept of joint ventures. The paper 'Life Sciences & Management-
A congruence of concepts:
part 1 :Facultative Mutualism & Joint Ventures'
aims at finding the common thread of existence which runs thru all organisms existing today.
thank u for your help