Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Environmental sex determination in a splash pool copepod

Voordouw, Maarten J. ; Anholt, Bradley R.

In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2002, vol. 76, no. 4, p. 511-520

The sex-determining mechanism has important demographic and genetic consequences by virtue of its effect on the population sex ratio. Here we investigate the effect of temperature dependent sex determination (TSD) on the primary sex ratio of the harpacticoid copepod, Tigriopus californicus. At the two experimental temperatures (15° and 22°C) used in this study, the primary sex ratio is... Plus

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    Summary
    The sex-determining mechanism has important demographic and genetic consequences by virtue of its effect on the population sex ratio. Here we investigate the effect of temperature dependent sex determination (TSD) on the primary sex ratio of the harpacticoid copepod, Tigriopus californicus. At the two experimental temperatures (15° and 22°C) used in this study, the primary sex ratio is almost always biased in favour of males. Higher temperatures induce masculinization and the change in sex ratio is not caused by differential mortality of the sexes. The mean level of TSD in the population is small (proportion of males increases by ~5% between 15° and 22°C) because only one-third of the families actually exhibit a significant sex-ratio response while the rest of the population is insensitive to temperature. A comparison of the primary sex ratio and the level of TSD between two locations reveals few differences among populations. Finally, individuals still exhibited TSD after having been maintained under constant temperature conditions in the lab for several generations. In addition the proportion of temperature-sensitive individuals remained unchanged. This suggests that the observed level of TSD is not an artefact of testing field-captured individuals in a novel laboratory environment. At this point the adaptive significance of temperature-dependent sex determination in T. californicus remains unknown.