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Science. 2018 Nov 30;362(6418):1025-1030. doi: 10.1126/science.aat1590.

Cultural flies: Conformist social learning in fruitflies predicts long-lasting mate-choice traditions.

Author information

1
Laboratoire Évolution and Diversité Biologique (EDB UMR 5174), Université de Toulouse, CNRS, IRD, 118 route de Narbonne, Bat 4R1, F-31062 Toulouse cedex 9, France. etienne.danchin@univ-tlse3.fr.
2
Laboratoire Évolution and Diversité Biologique (EDB UMR 5174), Université de Toulouse, CNRS, IRD, 118 route de Narbonne, Bat 4R1, F-31062 Toulouse cedex 9, France.
3
Université Toulouse 1 Capitole and Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST), Toulouse, France.
4
Department of Philosophy and Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
5
Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), University of Groningen, 9747 AG Groningen, Netherlands.
6
Behavioural Biology Unit, Department of Biology, Ecology and Evolution, University of Liège, 4020 Liège, Belgium.
7
Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, Centre de Biologie Intégrative, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, UPS, 118 route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse cedex 9, France.

Abstract

Despite theoretical justification for the evolution of animal culture, empirical evidence for it beyond mammals and birds remains scant, and we still know little about the process of cultural inheritance. In this study, we propose a mechanism-driven definition of animal culture and test it in the fruitfly. We found that fruitflies have five cognitive capacities that enable them to transmit mating preferences culturally across generations, potentially fostering persistent traditions (the main marker of culture) in mating preference. A transmission chain experiment validates a model of the emergence of local traditions, indicating that such social transmission may lead initially neutral traits to become adaptive, hence strongly selecting for copying and conformity. Although this situation was suggested decades ago, it previously had little empirical support.

PMID:
30498121
DOI:
10.1126/science.aat1590

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