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Am Nat. 2017 Jul;190(1):61-72. doi: 10.1086/692010. Epub 2017 Apr 24.

Genetic Correlations among Developmental and Contextual Behavioral Plasticity in Drosophila melanogaster.


Correlations among traits, including behaviors, are important because traits that are genetically correlated may not evolve independently. Recently, behavioral-correlations research has expanded to include correlations not only in mean-level behaviors but also in behavioral plasticity, that is, the degree to which individuals change their behavior in response to environmental stimuli. Positive correlations among behavioral plasticities would imply that individuals or genotypes that are behaviorally plastic in one way may also be plastic in other ways; negative correlations could imply trade-offs. Here, we examine aversive odor conditioning (learning) at two time points and plasticity in pupation site selection behavior across substrates in a panel of Drosophila genotypes. These behaviors represent different types of behavioral plasticity: contextual plasticity describes behavioral responses to stimuli that are currently present, while developmental plasticity describes behavioral responses to remembered experiences with stimuli in the recent past. We find that learning scores and plasticity in pupation site selection behavior are positively genetically correlated, representing the first example of a genetic correlation between developmental and contextual plasticity. These findings imply that ecological and evolutionary theories focusing on variation in a single dimension of behavioral plasticity may be incomplete.


Drosophila melanogaster; behavior; genetic correlations; learning; plasticity

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