Date of Award

Spring 5-19-2015

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Marine Science


Environmental and Ocean Sciences


Dr. Drew Talley


Dr. Annemarie Kramer


Dr. Nathalie Reyns


The associations made between many symbiotic cleaner shrimps and their host anemone species are influenced by local ecological factors, resulting in regional variations in symbiont-host preferences. These relationships are crucial parts of aquatic ecosystems, and as we face rapid global environmental change, understanding the local patterns of this host specificity will be essential to maintaining healthy marine environments. However, sea anemones, as well as their symbiotic relationships, from the Caribbean coasts of Panama have been poorly studied and are largely under-represented in the current literature. The purpose of this study is to identify the local host-selection patterns, specifically regarding host-size and host-species, of anemone symbionts in the Bocas del Toro, Panama region of the Caribbean. We surveyed 12 sites in this area for the presence of symbionts on the host species Bartholomea annulata (Corkscrew), Bartholomea lucida (Knobby), Condylactis gigantean (Giant), Stichodactylus helianthus (Sun), and Lebrunia danae (Branching). The individual symbiont species Periclimenes yucatanicus (Spotted Cleaner Shrimp) and Mithrax cinctimanus (Banded Clinging Crab), as well as symbionts overall, were found to have a significant preference in host-species and host-size. These preferences were for S. helianthus and larger hosts.