, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 373-388

Alcohol tolerance: An ecological parameter in the relative success of Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans

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Summary

Laboratory experiments have shown D. melanogaster adults to be more tolerant to alcohol in the environment than D. simulans, with the females being more tolerant than the males of their species. Larval development on alcohol supplemented media also demonstrated an increased tolerance by D. melanogaster although the effect was not as clear cut as for the adult survival. Oviposition choice experiments demonstrated a marked rejection of alcohol impregnated laying sites by D. simulans when compared to standard medium sites. D. melanogaster showed a slight preference for alcohol supplemented sites.

Collections in the maturation cellar of a vineyard produced, with the exception of a single D. simulans fly, entirely D. melanogaster adults while larvae and pupae from the cellar were also all D. melanogaster. Away from the alcohol resource, outside the cellar, both species were collected with D. simulans being the more common. However, the outside distribution of the two species was affected by alcohol fumes during vintage, as was the distribution of the sexes of D. melanogaster, with the more tolerant species or sex being closer to the source. The field results were thus in agreement with the laboratory predictions that D. melanogaster is better able to utilize an alcohol resource than D. simulans.