Powers, M. J., A. E. Wilson, K. B. Heine, and G. E. Hill. 2020. The relative importance of various mating criteria in copepods. Journal of Plankton Research 42(1):19-30.
To produce viable offspring, organisms may assess mates via criteria that include traits, such as sex, species, age, reproductive status, population identity and individual quality. Copepods are small, ubiquitous crustaceans that live in freshwater and marine systems around the world whose patterns of mate choice have been long studied in numerous species. Herein, we synthesized decades of experiments describing sexual selection in copepods to assess the importance of mating criteria. We used formal, meta-analytical techniques and mixed modeling to quantify the likelihood of non-random mating associated with mating criteria. In our synthesis of the scientific literature, we found that copepods use several criteria when assessing mates and that these criteria are associated with different likelihood estimates. We report the strongest likelihood of non-random mating when copepods assess the reproductive status of females or when copepods select between conspecific vs. heterospecific mates. We found weak likelihood of non-random mating in studies that provide mates from different populations or that manipulate operational sex ratio. Studies that directly test assessment of individual quality are sparse in copepods when compared to equivalent studies in vertebrates, and we encourage future researchers to explore whether copepods use individual characteristics as key mating criteria.