Life history adaptations and stress tolerance of four domestic species of Drosophila


Dr Masahito T. Kimura, Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-0810 Japan. Email:


Life history traits and stress tolerance were studied in four domestic species of DrosophilaD. melanogaster, D. simulans, D. auraria and D. immigrans– to understand how they adapt to their environments. In all species, larval weight approximately doubled in 1 day. The relative egg weight (egg weight : pupal weight) was smaller and the larval period was longer in D. immigrans than in the other three species. The pupal period was the longest in D. auraria. However, the adaptive significance of these differences in larval and pupal periods was not clear. The pupal case was generally thicker in the larger species, probably to support the larger pupal body. The start of oviposition was earliest and reproductive effort was greatest in female D. simulans, followed by female D. melanogaster. In contrast, starvation tolerance and the increase in bodyweight after eclosion was greater in D. immigrans and D. auraria than in the other two species. Pupal desiccation tolerance was greatest in D. melanogaster and lowest in D. auraria, and the less tolerant species seemed to select more humid sites for pupation. Adult tolerance to desiccation was greatest in D. melanogaster and lowest in D. simulans. In contrast, adult cold tolerance was greater in D. auraria and adult heat tolerance was lower in D. immigrans than in the other species. These differences in life history traits and stress tolerance represent the Drosophila species differential adaptations, and are assumed to allow coexistence of the species.