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Dispersal of Drosophila melanogaster over landscapes with different food patch structures


Edelsparre, Allan (2020), Dispersal of Drosophila melanogaster over landscapes with different food patch structures, Dryad, Dataset,


Theoretical and empirical studies often show that within populations, individuals vary in their propensity to disperse. We aspired to understand how this behavioural variation is impacted by the distribution and pattern of food patches across a landscape. In a series of experiments, we examined how inter-patch distance and the distribution of food patches influenced dispersal in wild-type strains of Drosophila melanogaster with natural allelic variants of the foraging (for) gene known to influence dispersal in this species. The “rover” strain was homozygous for the forR allele (more dispersive) whereas the “sitter” strain was homozygous for fors (less dispersive). We also assessed an outbred population of flies with an unknown dispersal propensity. Dispersal was assayed in a multi-patch lab arena (25 cells, 5 x 5 array). In the inter-patch distance trials, landscapes of two different sizes (small vs. large) were used, both with food in all 25 cells. Dispersal was reduced in the large landscape relative to the small landscape for all three fly strains. Sitter dispersal was lowest relative to both rovers and the outbred flies, whose dispersal tendencies were similar. In the patch distribution trials, flies were assayed in landscapes with varying distribution and number of cells containing food. Dispersal generally increased as the number of patches with food increased, however, rovers and sitters adopted similar dispersal strategies when food was fixed and limited. Conversely, their strategies differed when the total amount of food increased along with the number of patches. We found that both the inter-patch distance and distribution can influence dispersal. However, the effect of inter-patch distance and distribution on dispersal depends on genotype x environment interaction (G x E). Our findings highlight the importance of considering G x E when assessing how dispersal strategies and landscape dynamics influence the distribution of animal communities.


The metadata is included in the data file. At 20 minute time intervals (24 time intervals) the total number of new movements (transitions) were scored. For eample, at time 40 minutes the total number of flies within an arena that moved from one patch to another was scored.

Usage Notes

Metadata is included in the data file. Here all variables are described.