In an article published in the December 8 issue of Public Library of Science Biology, the authors described their experiments on the sex lives of fruit flies.
"These larger females are disproportionately courted and harassed by males attempting to obtain matings," said Tristan A. F. Long, the study's first author. "When these males are 'choosy' with their courtship, there may be negative consequences to the species' ability to adaptively evolve."
According to the scientists, too much mating is harmful to the females because seminal fluid from the male has toxic side effects. Too much courtship can also hinder the female's ability to forage effectively.
"When they court the females, the males sing to them; they do this by vibrating their wings," said Rice. "They dance and sing at the same time. This might sound romantic, and it would be if it only happened once. But males are doing it all the time. This courtship is unrelenting –– like mosquitoes on a warm summer night –– as the male fruit flies try to persuade females to mate. The males are so persistent that they get them to mate almost every day."In many species, females are frequently subject to intense courtship "harassment" from males attempting to obtain additional matings, according to the researchers. These coercive activities can result in attractive females becoming less fit to reproduce –– a factor that has a major effect on the entire population.
The male-mediated, persistent courtship bias can have important consequences for the ability of a population to adaptively change over time. If, for example, a female acquires a mutation that increases metabolic efficiency, allowing her to grow larger, and produce more offspring over her lifetime, this mutation should rapidly spread through the population. However, if the males get in the way of the biological success of these more attractive females, the mutation won't spread through the population as well as it might if males courted females indiscriminately.
The experiments clearly showed that the evolutionary adaptation of fruit flies is hindered by this mating situation. "This change in the distribution of fitness represents a previously unappreciated aspect of sexual selection –– one with important implications for the ability of beneficial genetic variation to spread through the gene pool, and ultimately for a species' capacity to adaptively evolve," Long explained.
Long was a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) postdoctoral fellow at UCSB at the time that he carried out the experiments designed with Rice. Long is currently a postdoctoral fellow with the University of Toronto in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The other authors are Alison Pischedda, a graduate student, and Andrew D. Stewart, a postdoctoral fellow, both of UCSB.
Gail Gallessich | EurekAlert!
Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University
Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.
Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
23.01.2018 | Life Sciences
23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy