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Title: Prezygotic reproductive barriers in precopulatory behavior of tidepool copepod species

Complexity in prezygotic mating behavior can contribute to the emergence of sexual incompatibility and reproductive isolation. In this study, we performed behavioral tests with two tidepool copepod species of the genus Tigriopus to explore the possibility of precopulatory behavioral isolation. We found that interspecific mating attempts failed prior to genital contact, and that this failure occurred at different behavioral steps between reciprocal pairings. Our results suggest that prezygotic barriers may exist at multiple points of the behavioral process on both male and female sides, possibly due to interspecific differences in mate-recognition cues used at those “checkpoints.” While many copepod species are known to show unique precopulatory mate-guarding behavior, the potential contribution of prezygotic behavioral factors to their isolation is not widely recognized. The pattern of sequential mate-guarding behaviors may have allowed the diversification of precopulatory communication and contributed to the evolutionary diversity of the Tigriopus copepods.

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Oxford University Press
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National Science Foundation
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