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Reproductive Strategy in Drosophila melanogaster: Significance of a Genetic Divergence between Temperate and Tropical Populations

J. Boulétreau-Merle, R. Allemand, Y. Cohet and J. R. David
Oecologia
Vol. 53, No. 3 (1982), pp. 323-329
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4216698
Page Count: 7
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Reproductive Strategy in Drosophila melanogaster: Significance of a Genetic Divergence between Temperate and Tropical Populations
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Abstract

Reproductive capacities of tropical and temperate populations of D. melanogaster were compared using three complementary techniques: (1) measure of egg production by females grown in the laboratory under uncrowded conditions and provided as adults with abundant food; (2) study of egg production of flies of unknown ages, collected in nature and then kept in similar conditions; and (3) analysis of ovarian activity of wild females dissected just after their capture. Tropical populations showed a lower fecundity in the laboratory and this was also observed in laboratory reared adults. On the average, flies also appeared to be older in the tropics than in temperate countries. These data, together with ecological observations showing that tropical populations live in a more predictable and stable environment, suggest that temperate populations are r-selected, while tropical ones are K-selected. The study of ovarian activity of wild females failed however to confirm this expectation. Tropical flies, which have a lower genetic fecundity, generally appeared to produce more propagules than did temperate flies. Such a contradiction shows how the ideas of r- and K-selection are difficult to apply to natural populations of Drosophila. Population density and interindividual competition are probably not the main selective forces in nature. Attention must also be paid to the necessity of exploring the environment to find resources, to the role of predation and parasitism, and to the occurrence in temperate countries of seasonal fluctuations with different selective pressures on successive generations.

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