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By Olivia Anderson, Biological Sciences
Advisor: Stephanie Rollmann
Presentation ID: 140
Abstract: Humidity is an important factor in the habitat preference and behavior of many animals. However, the genetic basis for variation in hygrosensory behavior, the sensing of and responding to humidity, remains poorly understood. Drosophila species live in many different environmental conditions and represent a good model for teasing apart the genetic architecture of humidity preference. Drosophila melanogaster, the classic genetic model, has a different habitat preference than D. mojavensis, a desert-adapted species inhabiting the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. While we are interested in differences in humidity preference between these species, current experiments focus on D. melanogaster. Here, we test the humidity preference of male and female flies to different humidity environments. Flies are allowed to walk freely inside a 3 cm x 1 meter Perspex tube containing a gradient of relative humidity. Humidity preference will be determined by examining video of the 4-hour trials and measuring time spent relative to the gradient. Future studies will examine hygrosensation in D. mojavensis, with the long-term goal of understanding the relationship between humidity and geographic distribution of the Drosophila species and genetic contributions to variation in hygrosensory behavior.