Thermal Preference in Species of Drosophila

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Emma Huntey
Stephanie Rollmann


By Emma Huntey, Biology

Advisor: Stephanie Rollmann

Presentation ID: 319

Abstract: Animals use their sensory systems to achieve ideal temperature for reproduction and growth, and extreme temperatures can threaten survival. The purpose of this research was to quantify between species variation in thermal preference using Drosophila as a model. Based upon their native habitat, Drosophila species exhibit differences in thermal preference. Desert dwelling flies have adapted to warmer temperatures from their environment, while flies in temperate regions have adapted to cooler temperatures. More specifically, Drosophila melanogaster, a fruit fly generalist occupies many temperate habitats, while D. mojavensis is a desert dwelling fly endemic to the southwestern US and northern Mexico. Flies were given a choice between four metal plates at two different temperatures ranging from 15 to 25°C. Fly positions were recorded over a range of times and avoidance indexes calculated. Flies tended to show a preference for 25°C, avoiding other tested temperatures. Little difference was observed between males and females. Drosophila melanogaster males showed a slightly higher avoidance to the higher temperatures tested of 30°C and 35°C than females. Over time D. melanogaster tended to avoid higher temperatures, and D. mojavensis preferred the higher temperatures. This result is perhaps not unexpected given the fly species originated in different habitats with marked differences in temperature. Future studies will be performed to better understand the underlying mechanisms of thermal preference in different species of Drosophila.

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The Natural World