Resource limitation and responses to rivals in males of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster

Janet S. Mason, Wayne G. Rostant, Tracey Chapman

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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Diet has a profound direct and indirect effect on reproductive success in both sexes. Variation in diet quality and quantity can significantly alter the capacity of females to lay eggs and of males to deliver courtship. Here we tested the effect of dietary resource limitation on the ability of male D. melanogaster to respond adaptively to rivals by extending their mating duration. Previous work done under ad libitum diet conditions showed that males exposed to rivals prior to mating significantly extend mating duration, transfer more ejaculate proteins and achieve higher reproductive success. Such adaptive responses are predicted to occur because male ejaculate production may be limited and hence ejaculate resources require allocation across different reproductive bouts, to balance current versus future reproductive success. However, when males suffer dietary limitation, and potentially have fewer reproductive resources to apportion, we expect adaptive allocation of responses to rivals to be minimised. We tested this prediction and found that males held on agar-only diets for 5-7 days lost the ability to extend mating following exposure to rivals. Interestingly, extended mating was retained in males held on low yeast/sugar: no sugar/yeast diet treatments, but was mostly lost when males were maintained on ‘imbalanced’ diets in which there was high yeast: no sugar and vice versa. Overall, the results show that males exhibit adaptive responses to rivals according to the degree of dietary resource limitation and to the ratio of individual diet components.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2010–2021
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number10
Early online date15 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • carbohydrate
  • diet
  • mating duration
  • mating latency
  • nutrition
  • protein
  • reproduction

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