Navigation Links
New study shows a genetic link between feeding behavior and animal dispersal

New research from the University of Toronto Scarborough shows that animal dispersal is influenced by a gene associated with feeding and food search behaviours.

The study, which was carried out by UTSC Professor Mark Fitzpatrick and PhD student Allan Edelsparre, provides one of the first aimed at gaining a functional understanding of how genes can influence dispersal tendencies in nature.

Using common fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), the researchers observed how two different foraging types known as sitter flies and rover flies moved over large distances when released in nature. They discovered that the rover flies, which are very active foragers as larvae, dispersed farther and more frequently than sitter flies, which are less active foragers.

"What is fascinating is that we were able to observe, both in nature and in the laboratory, a system that links their feeding activity as larvae and how far they disperse as adults to levels of the foraging gene in their brain," says Fitzpatrick.

In the laboratory, the researchers were also able to confirm that the foraging gene influences dispersal by artificially inducing higher levels of the gene in sitters, which caused them to disperse like rover flies.

Work on the dispersal tendencies of a variety of animals seem to converge on the notion that dispersal is not a random process.

"Some individuals seem to have greater innate dispersal tendencies than others," says Edelsparre. Like humans, animals have personalities including shyness, aggressiveness, and sociability. Individuals with similar personalities often share several related behaviours and the authors suggest this may explain the link between feeding, food searching, and dispersal.

The findings may also shine light on links between feeding and dispersal in other animals. For example, dispersing naked more rats and lizards are more active eaters. Fitzpatrick and Edelsparre also point to studies tracing the chemical signatures and dental records of early humans. While the chemical isotopes and tooth wear of most specimens indicated they foraged and resided locally, a few specimens carried isotopes from very different habitats suggesting they may have immigrated from far away. Whether the foraging gene plays a role in their dispersal tendencies remains unknown.

The ability to predict differences in dispersal tendencies could also influence how we build and maintain natural corridors for threatened species or how we stop the spread of invasive species like the round goby, emerald ash borer, or the Asian longhorned beetle, adds Fitzpatrick. "We are at an exciting critical juncture where work on genes and genomes are merging with a wealth of work on behavioural personalities and animal movement ecology," he says.

The research is currently available online and will be published in the upcoming edition of Ecology Letters.


Contact: Don Campbell
University of Toronto

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. Law that regulates shark fishery is too liberal: UBC study
3. New study will help protect vulnerable birds from impacts of climate change
4. Study jointly led by UCSB researcher supports theory of extraterrestrial impact
5. BYU study: Using a gun in bear encounters doesnt make you safer
6. 15-year study: When it comes to creating wetlands, Mother Nature is in charge
7. Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) shown to improve menopause symptoms in new study
8. Crystal structure of archael chromatin clarified in new study
9. EU-funded study underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity
10. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
11. Study demonstrates cells can acquire new functions through transcriptional regulatory network
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar , MD, describes ... wellness, and the business opportunities that arise from it ... Healthy Things . Long before health and wellness ... vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, was creating a ... the hospital or doctor,s office into the day-to-day lives ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... YORK , Oct. 27, 2015 In ... major issues of concern for various industry verticals such ... is due to the growing demand for secure & ... in various ,sectors, such as hacking of bank accounts, ... for electronic equipment such as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... October 26, 2015 ... adds Biometrics Market Shares, ... as well as Emerging Biometrics Technologies: ... to its collection of IT and ... . --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") (TSX-V: ICO) ... quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, unless specified ... under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... Andrew Rae , President & CEO of iCo ... value enriching for this clinical program, but also ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the ... the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as of the ... developments that would cause the recent movements in the ... --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company engaged in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software ... events in five states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health ... state are competing for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 ... market research report released by Transparency Market Research, the ... at a CAGR of 17.5% during the period between ... Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Volume, Share, Growth, ... non-invasive prenatal testing market to reach a valuation of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: