Strategy changes in subsequent fights as consequences of winning and losing in fruit fly fights

Fly (Austin). 2017 Apr 3;11(2):129-138. doi: 10.1080/19336934.2016.1259041. Epub 2016 Nov 11.


In competition for food, territory and mates, male fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) engage in agonistic encounters with conspecifics. The fighting strategies used to obtain these resources are influenced by previous and present experience, environmental cues, and the internal state of the animal including hormonal and genetic influences. Animals that experience prior defeats show submissive behavior and are more likely to lose 2nd contests, while animals that win 1st fights are more aggressive and have a higher probability of winning 2nd contests. In a recent report, we examined these loser and winner effects in greater detail and demonstrated that both winners and losers show short-term memory of the results of previous bouts while only losers demonstrate a longer-term memory that requires protein synthesis. The recent findings also suggested that an individual recognition mechanism likely exists that can serve important roles in evaluating the fighting ability of opponents and influencing future fighting strategy. In this article, we follow up on these results by asking how previous defeated and victorious flies change their fighting strategies in the presence of 2nd losing and winning flies, by searching for evidence of territory marking, and discussing the existing literature in light of our findings.

Keywords: aggression; behavior; dominance; plasticity; social transition; territoriality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aggression
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Social Behavior*