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Optimal mating strategies in pelagic copepods: ecological and evolutionary meaning


The mechanisms that govern mating in marine pelagic copepods are still hardly known. Pelagic copepods exhibit two different mating systems; there are species that require only one mating to ensure female fertility, and others that need re-insemination. Several aspects related with mating ecology, such as male fitness, mate choice, mate-finding behaviour, mating behaviour, or predation risk associated with mating, seem to be theoretically different and related to the mating system. Copepod swimming behaviour influences the encounter rates with partners, food, and predators. Copepods have likely developed different mating strategies to resolve the trade-off between feeding, mate finding and predator avoidance, but also to maximize the reproductive success. The main objective is elucidating the ecological and evolutionary meaning of the different mating strategies. The project is devoted to understand three main aspects related with mating, which are poor understood and/or not experimentally addressed before: 1) male reproductive fitness, 2) mate choice, and 3) predation effects on mate-finding behaviour and mating process. The project will combine theoretical approaches, quantitative observations (e.g. mating frequency, spermatophore production rates or mortality due to predation), and behavioural studies (e.g. mate finding or copula), and will be of interest to marine ecology and evolutionary biology areas. The project is really innovative because of the topics and approaches, and has thus the potential to open a new “niche” in the field of zooplankton ecology. The attainment of the objectives would also involve gaining knowledge of some pivotal processes to understand the population dynamics of copepods, which in its turn is a cornerstone in understanding 1) the pelagic ecosystem functioning and the role of the oceans in the Global Change, and 2) the regulation of fish production. These questions fit in several priority research areas covered by the FP7.

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Anker Engelundsvej 1 Bygning 101 A
2800 Kgs Lyngby
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 201 923,71
Administrative Contact
Astrup Thomas (Mr.)