Male Flies Do More Harm Than Good in Seeking ‘Hot’ Mates

Male Flies Do More Harm Than Good in Seeking ‘Hot’ Mates

We all know the “It” girl – the one woman every man wants, no matter how much money or status he has to gain to get her.  “It” girls often develop a repertoire of skills to dissuade and even repel their many suitors.  Apparently, female fruit flies need to get some of these skills, too.

In the case of some fly species, the male harassment of the hot female flies is not an evolutionary advantage.  The superior genes in the females are what causes male attention, but this behavior ultimately puts Drosophilia serrata at evolutionary disadvantage.

Experimenters observed the flies over 13 generations, allowing groups to adapt to a new environment.  They found through careful study, and by manipulating the potential number of mates for females, that too much attractiveness backfired.

When the experiment was finished, researchers sequenced the genomes of all flies and compared those harassed to the non-harassed.  When the male attention was allowed to occur at high rates and without intervention, the offspring were increasingly less adaptive over generations.

Associate professor Steve Chenoweth at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Sciences noted that the results clearly showed a lack of adaptive ability in species where harassment of attractive females was common.

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