Merging genetic mechanisms with movement ecology

The distribution of animals in space and time is highly dependent on individuals’ propensity to disperse and migrate. Individuals within populations often often exhibit quite different dispersal propensities. We are testing whether these differences are influenced by genes that are known to underly foraging activity in larval fruit flies (foraging gene). To achieve this, we raise fruit flies with known versions of the foraging gene and track their movement as adults in the field. In general, findings from this study could contribute to our understanding of how genes influence important ecological processes disproportionately, such as colonization of new environments and rates of spread in invasive species.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Marla Sokolowski

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