Previous work



From laboratory to field: lessons from a Drosophila field study

Kim van der Linde, Paul M. Brakefield , Jacques J. M. van Alphen, Jan G. Sevenster & Bas J. Zwaan

Presentation given at the Xth congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland.

In Drosophila ecology and life-history evolution, studies are almost exclusively carried out in the laboratory and then often extrapolated to the field situation. A question less often asked is whether the patterns observed in the laboratory are indeed good predictors for those patterns in the field. Our study system consists of 12 Drosophila species from Panama. We collected data on three life-history traits (body size, development time and starvation resistance) across a deforestation gradient in two field experiments and supplemented that with data from one laboratory experiment. Additionally, we estimated the phenotypic, genetic and interspecific correlations between the different life-history traits for (the species of) different communities. Whether results can be extrapolated depends on the specific trait. Similarly, extrapolation of results between species and even between populations of the same species needs to be approached with care. Our results show, as expected, that the dynamics in the field differ from the dynamics as expected from laboratory experiments and field experiments are crucial for our understanding of life-history evolution in Drosophila under natural conditions.