Symbiosis in Pistol Shrimp and Goby Fish
The Evolutionary History Of The Behavior
How did this partnership evolve? What evolutionary benefit is there to needing another species to survive?
Phylogeny describes changes in a species over many generations. In goby-shrimp relationships, phylogeny relates to how these partnerships evolved over time. Before the invention of S.C.U.B.A., researchers lacked the ability to accurately observe and document goby-shrimp relationships. Now, divers can more easily collect specimens and observe these partners’ behavior in marine environments, and delve into how and why these animals choose to associate with each other. Although not much is known about this particular pairing, there has been a lot of research conducted on the phylogeny of symbiotic relationships in general. Most researchers have come to the conclusion that, like many other symbiotic relationships, the shrimp-goby pairing evolved as a way for both species to avoid predation (Karplus 1987.)
Above: A visual representation of the three types of symbiosis (via osu.edu).