Substrate vibrations during courtship in three Drosophila species

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 15;8(11):e80708. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0080708. eCollection 2013.


While a plethora of studies have focused on the role of visual, chemical and near-field airborne signals in courtship of Drosophila fruit flies, the existence of substrate-borne vibrational signals has been almost completely overlooked. Here we describe substrate vibrations generated during courtship in three species of the D. melanogaster group, from the allegedly mute species D. suzukii, its sister species D. biarmipes, and from D. melanogaster. In all species, we recorded several types of substrate vibrations which were generated by locomotion, abdominal vibrations and most likely through the activity of thoracic wing muscles. In D. melanogaster and D. suzukii, all substrate vibrations described in intact males were also recorded in males with amputated wings. Evidence suggests that vibrational signalling may be widespread among Drosophila species, and fruit flies may provide an ideal model to study various aspects of this widespread form of animal communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Communication
  • Animals
  • Courtship*
  • Drosophila / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal

Grant support

This research was supported by the Autonomous Province of Trento (Accordo di Programma 2012), Funding Research Programme P1-0255 and Research Project V4-0525 by Slovenian Research Agency. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.