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Density-dependent natural selection in Drosophila: Adaptation to adult crowding


The effects of adult crowding on two components of fitness were studied in three sets of Drosophila melanogaster populations, subjected to life-stage-specific, density-dependent natural selection in the laboratory for over 50 generations. Three days of crowding, early in adult life, were observed to increase mortality significantly during the episode of crowding, as well as decrease subsequent fecundity. Populations selected for adaptation to high adult densities suffered significantly lower mortality during episodes of adult crowding, as compared to populations selected specifically for adaptation to larval crowding, as well as control populations typically maintained at low larval and adult densities. Moreover, populations adapted to larval crowding seemed to be adversely affected by adult crowding to a greater extent than the controls, raising the possibility of trade-offs between adaptations to larval and adult crowding, respectively. Preliminary evidence suggests that the populations adapted to adult crowding may have evolved a propensity to stay away from the food medium, which is where most deaths occur when adults are crowded in culture vials.

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