Master of Science (MSc)
Faculty of Science
Dr. Tristan AF Long
Dr. Scott Ramsay
Dr. Derek Grey
Variation in behaviour can be observed both between individuals, based on their condition and experience as well as between populations due to sources of heterogeneity in the environment. These behavioural differences have evolved as a result of natural and sexual selection where different strategies may be favoured depending on the costs and benefits associated with those behaviours. In this thesis I examine two sources of heterogeneity within the environment and their behavioural consequences: how spatial complexity mediates sexual selection over time, and how inter and intraspecific signals and individual condition influence social oviposition behaviour. By increasing spatial complexity, we were able to manipulate male-female interaction rate which in turn influenced courtship behaviour and male-induced harm, the consequence of this was an increase in female fecundity especially in the later days of the assay and no change in offspring fitness. These results supported the idea that spatial complexity is able to mediate sexual selection through decreased harm to females. Oviposition decisions are of high consequence to an individual’s fitness and can be shaped by many environmental conditions. Instead of expending energy to evaluate all their different costs and benefits of the conditions of potential oviposition sites females can chose to rely on the signals left by others, in this case it would be beneficial for females to identify signals most like themselves. While we found females oviposited with individuals of the same species and diet, when given the option they showed more interest in and laid more eggs on media that previously held virgin males, bringing into question many assumptions of copying behaviour. In Drosophila melanogaster the only control females have over their offspring is who they mate with and where they oviposit their eggs, thus, these two factors can have a long-lasting impact on individual fitness for future generations. It is also important to consider how the standard lab environment may be shaping these behaviours, and the consequences this has for the evolutionary trajectory of lab populations.
Malek, Heather and Long, Tristan AF Dr., "Adventures in Time and Space: What Shapes Behavioural Decisions in Drosophila melanogaster?" (2019). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2127.
Available for download on Tuesday, January 14, 2020