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Pupation Site Selection in Four Drosophilid Species: Aggregation and Contact

John Ringo, Harold Dowse
Journal of insect behavior 2012 v.25 no.6 pp. 578-589
Drosophila melanogaster, Zaprionus, larvae, pupae, pupation, social behavior, sympatry
This study of pupation site selection was undertaken to assess the frequency and orientation of pupae making physical contact in four sympatric species in the family Drosophilidae: Drosophila melanogaster, D. simulans, D. funebris, and Zaprionus tuberculatus. Pupation behavior was assayed in a vial containing a small food cup. Using nearest-neighbor analysis, we found that pupae were aggregated. Furthermore, the frequency of contact between pupae was far greater than could be explained by chance, in all four species. In the three species of Drosophila, about a third of the contacts were between intimately paired pupae whose long axes were parallel; we call this arrangement synapsis. In Z. tuberculatus, most pupal contacts were unoriented. When D. melanogaster larvae were reared with each of the other species, heterospecific pupal contact, including synapsis, occurred. Our discovery of pupal contact in several drosophilids expands the known repertory of social behavior in this family.