‘Hangry’ Drosophila: food deprivation increases male aggression

Danielle Edmunds, Stuart Wigby, Jennifer C. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Aggressive interactions are costly, such that individuals should display modified aggression in response to environmental stress. Many organisms experience frequent periods of food deprivation, which can influence an individual's capacity and motivation to engage in aggression. However, because food deprivation can simultaneously decrease an individual's resource-holding potential and increase its valuation of food resources, its net impact on aggression is unclear. Here, we tested the influence of increasingly prolonged periods of adult food deprivation on intermale aggression in pairs of fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster. We found that males displayed increased aggression following periods of food deprivation longer than a day. Increased aggression in food-deprived flies occurred despite their reduced mass. This result is probably explained by an increased attraction to food resources, as food deprivation increased male occupancy of central food patches, and food patch occupancy was positively associated with aggression. Our findings demonstrate that aggressive strategies in male D. melanogaster are influenced by nutritional experience, highlighting the need to consider past nutritional stresses to understand variation in aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Early online date2 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • aggression
  • contest theory
  • diet
  • nutrition

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