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Chemical Mating Signals Image 3
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Chemical Mating Signals (Image 3)

June 23, 2010
Chemical Mating Signals (Image 3) Scanning electron micrograph of the antennule of the male subtropical predatory pelagic copepod Euchaeta rimana, a type of zooplankton. Female copepods emit chemical compounds called pheromones that become encased in a narrow, tunnel-like structure created by their hydrodynamic wake. The tunnel increases the animal's apparent size by 100 times, enhancing the probability of an encounter with a potential mate. This image was taken as part of a study of chemical signals involved in copepod mating by Georgia Institute of Technology professor Jeannette Yen. Yen is studying the mating patterns of zooplankton--short-lived organisms that range in size from several microns to a few centimeters. Zooplankton live in oceans and almost all other aquatic habitats, traveling with the flow of water. Although they are abundant, the probability of finding a mate for the millimeter-sized copepod (one of several types of zooplankton Yen is studying) is low because they are widely dispersed in a huge ocean, often living in a dark environment where vision is limited, and they lack image-forming eyes. To make up for their visual impairment, copepods and other zooplankton communicate with potential mates by chemical signals. To attract a mate, females emit chemical compounds called pheromones that are slowly dispersed by molecular diffusion, not by the flow of the water. (Date of Image: 2003) [Image 3 of 3 related images. Back to Image 1.]