How social network structure affects decision-making in Drosophila melanogaster

Proc Biol Sci. 2016 Mar 16;283(1826):20152954. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2954.


Animals use a number of different mechanisms to acquire crucial information. During social encounters, animals can pass information from one to another but, ideally, they would only use information that benefits survival and reproduction. Therefore, individuals need to be able to determine the value of the information they receive. One cue can come from the behaviour of other individuals that are already using the information. Using a previous extended dataset, we studied how individual decision-making is influenced by the behaviour of conspecifics in Drosophila melanogaster. We analysed how uninformed flies acquire and later use information about oviposition site choice they learn from informed flies. Our results suggest that uninformed flies adjust their future choices based on how coordinated the behaviours of the informed individuals they encounter are. Following social interaction, uninformed flies tended either to collectively follow the choice of the informed flies or to avoid it. Using social network analysis, we show that this selective information use seems to be based on the level of homogeneity of the social network. In particular, we found that the variance of individual centrality parameters among informed flies was lower in the case of a 'follow' outcome compared with the case of an 'avoid' outcome.

Keywords: Drosophila; oviposition choice; social learning; social network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decision Making
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Learning
  • Oviposition
  • Social Behavior

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.VB654