Gender-specific feeding rates in planktonic copepods with different feeding behavior

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Planktonic copepods have sexually dimorphic behaviors, which can cause differences in feeding efficiency between genders. Copepod feeding rates have been studied extensively but most studies have focused only on females. In this study, we experimentally quantified feeding rates of males and females in copepods with different feeding behavior: ambush feeding (Oithona nana), feeding-current feeding (Temora longicornis) and cruising feeding (Centropages hamatus). We hypothesize that carbon-specific maximum ingestion rates are similar between genders, but that maximum clearance rates are lower for male copepods, particularly in ambush feeders, where the males must sacrifice feeding for mate searching. We conducted gender-specific functional feeding response experiments using prey of different size and motility. In most cases, gender-specific maximum ingestion and clearance rates were largely explained by the difference in size between sexes, independent of the feeding strategy. However, maximum clearance rates of males were approximately two times higher than for females in the ambush feeding copepod O. nana feeding on an optimal motile prey (Oxyrrhis marina), as hypothesized. We conclude that the conflict between mate searching and feeding can cause significant difference in feeding efficiency between copepod genders in ambush feeders but not in feeding-current and cruising feeders.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)631-644
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • planktonic copepods
  • sexual dimorphism
  • feeding behavior
  • functional feeding response
  • gender differences


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