Sound production during agonistic behavior of male Drosophila melanogaster

Bjorn Thorin Jonsson, E A Kravitz, R Heinrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Male Drosophila fruitflies acquire and defend territories in order to attract females for reproduction. Both, male-directed agonistic behavior and female-directed courtship consist of series of recurrent stereotypical components. Various studies demonstrated the importance of species-specific sound patterns generated by wing vibration as being critical for male courtship success. In this study we analyzed the patterns and importance of sound signals generated during agonistic interactions of male Drosophila melanogaster. In contrast to acoustic courtship signals that consist of sine and pulse patterns and are generated by one extended wing, agonistic signals lack sine-like components and are generally produced by simultaneous movements of both wings. Though intra-pulse oscillation frequencies (carrier frequency) are identical, inter-pulse intervals are twice as long and more variable in aggression signals than in courtship songs, where their precise temporal pattern serves species recognition. Acoustic signals accompany male agonistic interactions over their entire course but occur particularly often after tapping behavior which is a major way to identify the gender of the interaction partner. Since similar wing movements may either be silent or generate sound and wing movements with sound have a greater impact on the subsequent behavior of a receiver, sound producing wing movements seem to be generated intentionally to serve as a specific signal during fruit fly agonistic encounters.
Translated title of the contributionSound production during agonistic behavior of male Drosophila melanogaster
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29 - 38
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


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