No evidence of predation causing female-biased sex ratios in marine pelagic copepods

LFM Gusmão, AD McKinnon, AJ Richardson
2013 Marine Ecology Progress Series  
Although sex ratios close to unity are expected in dioecious species, biased sex ratios are common in nature. It is essential to understand causes of skewed sex ratios in situ, as they can lead to mate limitation and have implications for the success of natural populations. Femaleskewed sex ratios are commonly observed in copepods in situ. Here we discuss the challenges of copepod sex ratio research and provide a critical review of factors determining copepod sex ratios, focusing on 2 main
more » ... tives. The first is a critique of the male predation theory, which is currently the main process thought to be responsible for female-skewed sex ratios. It assumes that males have higher mortality because of increased vulnerability to predation during their search for mates. We show that there is little support for the male predation theory, that sex ratios skewed toward females occur in the absence of predation, that sex ratios are not related to predation pressure, and that where sex-skewed predation does occur, it is biased toward females. Our second objective is to suggest alternative hypotheses regarding the determination of sex ratios. We demonstrate that environmental factors, environmental sex determination and sex change have strong effects on copepod sex ratios, and suggest that differential physiological longevity of males and females may be more important in determining sex ratios than previously thought. We suggest that copepod sex ratios are the result of a mixture of factors.
doi:10.3354/meps10265 fatcat:g33mbs6erbhxdjruddtezjaogy