Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Correlated decision making across multiple phases of olfactory guided search in Drosophila


van Breugel, Floris (2021), Correlated decision making across multiple phases of olfactory guided search in Drosophila, Dryad, Dataset,


All motile organisms must search for food, often requiring the exploration of heterogeneous environments across a wide range of spatial scales. Recent field and laboratory experiments with the fruit fly, Drosophila, have revealed that they employ different strategies across these regimes, including kilometer scale straight-path flights between resource clusters, zig-zagging trajectories to follow odor plumes, and local search on foot after landing. However, little is known about the extent to which experiences in one regime might influence decisions in another. To determine how a flies’ odor plume tracking during flight is related to their behavior after landing, I tracked the behavior of individually labelled fruit flies as they explored an array of three odor emitting, but food-barren, objects. The distance flies travelled on the objects in search of food was correlated with the time elapsed between their visits, suggesting that their in-flight plume tracking and on-foot local search behaviors are interconnected through a lossy memory-like process.


To keep track of individual flies across all three platforms, I painted a dot of colored nail polish on their thorax. The flies were cold-anesthetized for the painting, and allowed to recover while being deprived of food, but not water, for 8 hours prior to the experiment start. For each experiment, I used six flies. They were placed in the wind tunnel 6 hours prior to their entrained dusk (relative to a 16:8 light:dark cycle), and allowed to move freely throughout the wind tunnel for 18 hours. When the flies landed on a platform, they were tracked by a machine-vision tracking system described previously, with one modification. Every 10 seconds, 18 megapixel color dSLR cameras positioned above each patch photographed the flies. All trajectories were hand-corrected for tracking errors to guarantee their completeness, and manually associated with the correct color identity from the dSLR images. Data was collected using the open source repository:

Usage Notes

This database contains the trajectories of individually marked fruit flies searching an odor (ethanol) source.  


National Science Foundation, Award: NSF-1626424

Moore/Sloan Data Science and Washington Research Foundation Innovation in Data Science, Award: Postdoctoral Fellowship

Sackler Scholarship in Biophysics

National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Award: P20GM103650

Sackler Scholarship in Biophysics