Marta Soares

research interests

I am basically interested on cooperative behaviour, using for that,
the cleaning interactions among fish as my main mutualistic model.
My research on the cleaning mutualism had, so far, a relatively
broad scope, ranging from a "simple" behaviour approach to a
more integrative point of view, such as the application of game
theory concepts (particularly the Biological Markets Theory) or,
presently on a more physiological/functional fashion. 

The Caribbean cleaning gobies Elacatinus spp

The Caribbean cleaning mutualism was the model I started with
during my PhD studies. The idea was to attempt to apply market
concepts to the Caribbean cleaning gobies and to determine whether
the biological market model is a suitable framework to understand
all cleaning mutualisms. While bearing some similarities to the
Labroides dimidiatus system, the cleaning goby mutualism revealed
striking differences: clients did not seem to use their potential for
access to multiple cleaners to promote honesty in cleaning gobies.
Clients of cleaning gobies do not respond to cleaner cheating by
switching or punishing cleaners. Tactile stimulation is never performed
by gobies on their clients. Also, there are now reasons to believe that
these cleaners mainly prefer to eat their clients' parasites (thus having
a tendency towards honesty). In view of the absence of several
important features of biological markets, the cleaning goby system was
not considered to be a case of a market. I am presently interested in
continuing my studies on these cleaners, only this time using a more
cognitive (and comparative) and physiological/functional approach.


The Indo-Pacific bluestreak cleaner wrasse,
Labroides dimidiatus

My studies on this particular cleaning model started also during
my PhD, but only briefly. Contrarily to the cleaning gobies,
interactions between these cleaners and their real clients have
been the target of several studies that have contributed to a
generalized knowledge of the functional aspects of these cleaner
fish behaviour. However, many open questions remain, being the
most important about the complex underlying physiological
mechanisms of cleaners and of their customers' decision making,
to which little or nothing has yet been addressed. Can fish social
behaviour be restricted to interactions within-species or can cleaners'
interspecific behaviour be modulated in a similar fashion? Is cleaning
a social or foraging behaviour? Is it governed by the same hormones
as intraspecific social behaviour? And how does it affect clients?

Presently, my main goal is to link the functional aspects of these
cleaners decision making to its mechanisms, through the experimental
manipulation of neuroendocrine systems in cleaners and, by further
testing on how this manipulation influences their behaviour both during
learning experiments and their interactions with real clients. I will also
try to measure the physiological effects of tactile stimulation on clients
of cleaner fishes.



Post Doctoral Fellow
In collaboration with Prof. Rui Oliveira
Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada (ISPA), P
and Prof. Redouan Bshary
Université de Neuchâtel, CH

"On the application of Game Theoretic Concepts to the
Carribean Cleaning Goby Mutualism with Emphasis on
Biological Markets."
Prof. Isabelle Côté, University of East Anglia, UK
and Prof. Redouan Bshary, Université de Neuchâtel, CH
"On the impact of introduced red swamp crayfish
Procambarus clarkii in rice field eosystems."
Supervisor: Dr. Pedro Anastacio, University of Evora, PT
Institute Gulbenkian for Science (IGC), PT
Supervisor: Dr. Carlos Penha Conçalves
"On the intra- and interspecific following associations of
the 'azorean' striped red mullet Mullus surmuletus."
Funding: Portuguese Regional Government
Supervision: Prof. Joao P. Barreiros, University of Azores, PT
Degree in Marine Biology
Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, PT




Instituto Superior de Psicologia
Aplicada (ISPA)
Unidade de Investigação em
Integrative Behavioural
Biology Group
Rua Jardim do Tobaco 34
1149-041 Lisboa

Phone: + 351 21 8811700
(ext. 311)
Fax: + 351 21 8860954


Université de Neuchâtel
Institut de Biologie
Rue Emile-Argand 11
CH-2000 Neuchâtel

Fax +41 32 718 30 01