Navigation Links
Happy flies look for a place like home

A happy youth can influence where a fruit fly chooses to live as an adult, according to new research in the American Naturalist. The study, led by Judy Stamps from the University of California at Davis, provides new insight into how animals choose places to live and raise their young.

Like humans who move out of their parents' houses in young adulthood, most animals leave their birthplaces before they start to raise families of their own, a phenomenon known as natal dispersal. Scientists have noticed that dispersers tend to settle down in new habitats that are similar to where they were borneven when they have several habitat options to choose from. Studies have documented the behavior in a wide range of animals, including insects, reptiles and mammals. Stamps and her colleagues coined a term for it: natal habitat preference induction.

But why animals choose a new home that is like their birthplace is a mystery. Are they genetically hard-wired to do this, or is it a conditioned response that depends on an animal's experience in youth?

To answer that question, the researchers set up an experiment designed to give fruit flies either a "good" or "bad" experience in their youths. They set up two fruit fly habitats containing different types of food and shelter, and placed flies in the pupa stagejust before they become full-fledge fliesinto those habitats. Some young flies were given the happy experience of having full access to tasty food and safe hiding places after they emerged from their pupae. But others were given a less positive experience. They could smell the food and see the shelter, but were unable to eat or hide. After the flies reached maturity, the food and shelters were removed, and the flies were provided with a choice of two new habitats in which to live. The flies that had the good experience in youth tended to choose habitats that contained the same type of food and shelter as where they grew up, the researchers found. The flies that had the negative experience showed no preference for habitats similar to their birth habitats.

The results, Stamps says, suggest that "associative learning" is involved when young fruit flies choose a new habitat. Flies are apparently able to connect cues from their birthplaces with the experiences they had there. Flies that associated the smell of food and the sight of shelter with a nice meal and a safe hiding place sought a new habitat with the same sort of food and hiding places. But if those same cues were not associated with feeding and safety, the flies were not inordinately drawn to that habitat type.

Whether other animals would react the same way is still an open question, Stamps says.

"It would be fun to see whether humans with happy childhoods also prefer to settle in areas that are similar to those in which they were born and raised," she said. "Are we more likely to choose a new habitat like a large city versus a small town versus countryside based on where we were raised and what happened to us there?"


Contact: Kevin Stacey
University of Chicago Press Journals

Related biology news :

1. A happy new year for penguins
2. Genes hold the key to how happy we are, scientists say
3. Wolves find happy hunting grounds in Yellowstone National Park
4. Pesky fruit flies learn from experienced females: Study
5. Now butterflies are also being counted in China, Australia and Israel
6. Carbon nanoparticles toxic to adult fruit flies but benign to young
7. Scripps Research scientists observe human neurodegenerative disorder in fruit flies
8. Tumor suppressor gene in flies may provide insights for human brain tumors
9. Genital stimulation opens door for cryptic female choice in tsetse flies
10. Fireflies and jellyfish help illuminate quest for cause of infertility
11. Flies may spread drug-resistant bacteria from poultry operations
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016  A new partnership announced ... accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction of the ... priced and high-value life insurance policies to consumers ... With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine ... readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, and activity ...
(Date:4/13/2016)...  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... standard in telehealth thanks to a new partnership with ... IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health measurements, such ... and, when they opt in, share them with IMPOWER ... local retail location at no cost. By leveraging this ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... RATON, Florida , March 29, 2016 ... or the "Company") LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are ... DNA in ink used in a variety of writing ... theft. Buyers of originally created collectibles from athletes on ... through forensic analysis of the DNA. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their ... agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, ... connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... today announced the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in ... to explore the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Andrew D Zelenetz ... Published recently in Oncology ... touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D Zelenetz , discusses the ... is placing an increasing burden on healthcare systems ... With the patents on many biologics expiring, interest ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... the QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate ... The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to ... key obstacle for many early stage organizations - access ... the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: