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Published September 2011 | Published
Journal Article Open

Prior Mating Experience Modulates the Dispersal of Drosophila in Males More Than in Females


Cues from both an animal's internal physiological state and its local environment may influence its decision to disperse. However, identifying and quantifying the causative factors underlying the initiation of dispersal is difficult in uncontrolled natural settings. In this study, we automatically monitored the movement of fruit flies and examined the influence of food availability, sex, and reproductive status on their dispersal between laboratory environments. In general, flies with mating experience behave as if they are hungrier than virgin flies, leaving at a greater rate when food is unavailable and staying longer when it is available. Males dispersed at a higher rate and were more active than females when food was unavailable, but tended to stay longer in environments containing food than did females. We found no significant relationship between weight and activity, suggesting the behavioral differences between males and females are caused by an intrinsic factor relating to the sex of a fly and not simply its body size. Finally, we observed a significant difference between the dispersal of the natural isolate used throughout this study and the widely-used laboratory strain, Canton-S, and show that the difference cannot be explained by allelic differences in the foraging gene.

Additional Information

© 2011 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited. Received: 19 September 2010; Accepted: 20 April 2011; Published online: 27 May 2011. We thank R. Bailey for help in developing the circuit boards that run our technology; J. Birch for early drafts of the machine drawings used in the design of our hardware; M. Vondrus for help with machining various parts used in the construction of our experimental chambers; M. Sokolowski for fly strains; the late S. Benzer and members of his laboratory for much criticism; and finally, members of the Dickinson laboratory for experimental guidance and helpful discussions. This work was supported by NIH grant 5R01DA22777-3, NSF Engineering Research Center Grant EEC9407 226, and HHMI (J.C.S.).

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023