Analysis of courtship behavior in closely related species of Drosophila virilis group: a new approach arises new questions

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Courtship behavior of males was studied in four closely related Drosophila species: D. virilis, D. lummei, D. a. americana and D. littoralis. Using a video-computing approach, we compared behavior in males courting conspecific and heterospecific females. In males of all species studied, touching and licking were found to be the most prolonged courtship elements. Touching and licking were typically proceeding together; wing vibration was usually produced against a background of touching and licking. We found only minor interspecific variations in courtship rituals. Heterospecific courtships in D. virilis and D. lummei were almost as active as conspecific ones; however, isolation between D. a. americana and D. littoralis appeared to be much stronger than between D. virilis and D. lummei. Analysis of prolonged touching and licking raises a question about chemical and tactile sensory stimuli exchanged between sexes in the developed courtship of D. virilis group.

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We are grateful to students T. Rogatykh, G. Alexandrov, E. Belyaev, N. Blochina, M. Kazaryan and A. Yudina for their valuable help in videotaping courtships. We also wish to thank Dr. A. Kulikov for stimulating discussions during the manuscript preparation. This work was partly supported by a grant from the Russian Foundation of Basic Research 08-04-01752-а.

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Correspondence to Varvara Y. Vedenina.

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Vedenina, V.Y., Ivanova, T.I. & Lazebny, O.Е. Analysis of courtship behavior in closely related species of Drosophila virilis group: a new approach arises new questions. J Insect Behav 26, 402–415 (2013) doi:10.1007/s10905-012-9359-z

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  • Drosophila
  • courtship behavior
  • sensory stimuli
  • sexual isolation