Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 


Santa Cruz, CA

Vikram Baliga, PhD Candidate at UC Santa Cruz, member of the Mehta Lab. Areas of study: ecology, ontogeny, morphometrics, and comparative methods.

Ontogenetic Patterns of Cleaner Fish Morphology

Nearly all cleaners in the genus Thalassoma clean predominately as juveniles. In a case study, I discovered that Thalassoma cleaner wrasses, as juveniles, possess jaws with low mobility and exhibit low bite forces compared to non-cleaner congeners (Baliga and Mehta, 2014). Upon reaching adulthood, however, morphological and functional differences between cleaners and non-cleaners begin to blur. The sizes at which I first found overlap between cleaner and non-cleaner species in feeding traits approximately correspond with the body lengths around which these species shift from juvenile to adult coloration patterns. Thus, a large suite of ontogenetic change accompanies the dietary shift in these species.