Evolution of dispersal kernel in laboratory populations of Drosophila melanogaster

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Sudipta TungSutirth Dey


The distribution of dispersal distances in a population (i.e. the dispersal kernel) is often considered to be a non-evolvable property of a species. We tested this widely-held belief by subjecting four laboratory populations of Drosophila melanogaster to selection for increased dispersal. The dispersal kernel evolved rapidly, both in terms of the location parameter (i.e. mean distance travelled), as well as the shape parameters (e.g. skew and kurtosis). Consequently, the frequency of long-distance dispersers in the population increased, which enhanced the spatial extent of the selected populations by 67%. The selected populations also had significantly greater dispersal propensity and rate. The evolvability of dispersal kernels can potentially affect range expansion, invasion speed and disease spread, which in turn might have considerable socio-economic consequences.

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Drosophila melanogaster
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