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Copepod mate-finding behaviour - mechanisms and ecological implications


The few existing studies on mate finding in copepods indicate that both chemical and hydro mechanical signals are involved in the remote detection, identification, and pursuit of mates. The objective of the proposed project is to describe mate-finding behavior in the copepods Acartia tonsa, Pseudocalanus sp., Centropages typicus, Centropages hamatus, Oithona similis, and others. These species are abundant in the ocean and therefore of strong ecological interest. We will describe the spatial and temporal swimming patterns during mate finding, and investigate the type of signals (chemical or hydro mechanical) used. We shall conduct experiments testing male reactions to artificial signals, and test signal persistence. Moreover, theoretical analyses of signal generation, propagation, and perception will be made. The results obtained from the descriptive studies, the signal experiments, and the theoretical analyses of signals, will be used to model encounter-rates and examine population-dynamic implications in natural populations. A brief summary of the specific project-activities and methods includes:
a) Describe and visualize mate-finding behavior in a series of marine copepods by use of 3D video-filming andimage/motion-analysis.
b) Identify the types of signals used for mate-finding by video-analysis of spatial and temporal swimming patterns.
c) Perform experiments testing effects of artificial chemical and hydromantic signals.
d) Test signal persistence in differing environments
e) Make theoretical analyses of signal generation, propagation and perception.
f) Use the results of the previous activities to model encounter -rates, and examine population-dynamic implications in natural populations. Training content: The proposed project will provide training in use of 3D video-analysis as a tool to study processes in the plankton. Characterization and theoretical evaluation of the signals used by copepods to communicate their presence, as well as estimation of encounter-rates (mathematical models) will be made. Finally, I will examine the implications of the obtained results for mate finding in the natural environment. Hence, I will receive training in experimental and theoretical biology. Expected impact: Professor Kioerboe is a world-leading scientist within plankton ecology, with a particular interest in zooplankton interactions, population dynamics, and small-scale biological-physical interactions. Due to the expertise of Kioerboe and his team (including guest scientists), I am convinced that conducting this project under supervision of kioerboe will improve my skills in both experimental and theoretical biology, and help me become a "more complete" marine scientist. I will contribute to the work in the laboratory, and expect to publish the results of the project in cooperation with Kioerboe and his team.

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


Kavalergaarden 6
2920 Charlottenlund