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Olfaction in a viscous environment: the “color” of sexual smells in Temora longicornis
- Hinow, Peter, Strickler, J. Rudi, Yen, Jeannette
- Die Naturwissenschaften 2017 v.104 no.5-6 pp. 46
- Copepoda, females, insects, males, mathematical models, odor compounds, sex pheromones, smell, swimming, trail pheromones
- We investigate chemical aspects of mating in the marine copepod Temora longicornis (Copepoda, Calanoidea). Our emphasis is the female pheromone signaling in form of well-defined trails for males to follow, observed in Doall et al. (Phil Trans R Soc Lond B 353:681–689, 1998). The viscous environment and the properties of the odorants play important roles as the spread of the pheromone trail limits the time during which it is useful for tracing. A key observation from our earlier work is the ability of a searching male to detect the direction of the female and to correct its swimming direction if necessary. We propose a simple mathematical model for the spread of a pheromone from a moving source and carry out numerical simulations of two possible detection mechanisms. We find that a searching agent that is capable to detect a ratio outperforms a searcher that depends on the gradient of a single compound. This suggests that copepod sex pheromones consist of blends of chemical compounds, and that a ratio detection mechanism similar to that in airborne insects is at work.