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Desiccation stress acts as cause as well as cost of dispersal in Drosophila melanogaster

Cite this dataset

Mishra, Abhishek et al. (2021). Desiccation stress acts as cause as well as cost of dispersal in Drosophila melanogaster [Dataset]. Dryad.


Environmental stress is one of the important causes of biological dispersal. At the same time, the process of dispersal itself can incur and/or increase susceptibility to stress for the dispersing individuals. Therefore, in principle, stress can serve as both a cause and a cost of dispersal. We studied these potentially contrasting roles of a key environmental stress (desiccation) using Drosophila melanogaster. By modulating water and rest availability, we asked whether: (a) dispersers are individuals that are more susceptible to desiccation stress, (b) dispersers pay a cost in terms of reduced resistance to desiccation stress, (c) dispersal evolution alters the desiccation cost of dispersal, and (d) females pay a reproductive cost of dispersal. We found that desiccation was a clear cause of dispersal in both sexes, as both male and female dispersal propensity increased with increasing duration of desiccation. However, the desiccation cost of dispersal was male-biased, a trend unaffected by dispersal evolution. Instead, females paid a fecundity cost of dispersal. We discuss the complex relationship between desiccation and dispersal, which can lead to both positive and negative associations. Furthermore, the sex differences highlighted here may translate into differences in movement patterns, thereby giving rise to sex-biased dispersal patterns.


This dataset was collected through four different laboratory experiments on Drosophila melanogaster. In all the cases, the direct observations have been presented, with no processing.

Usage notes

All information is given in the accompanying README file.


Science and Engineering Research Board, Award: CRG/2018/001333