Experimental evolution of color preference for oviposition in Drosophila melanogaster

Mellissa Marcus, Terence C. Burnham, David W. Stephens, Aimee S. Dunlap

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Preferences are the foundation of economics. Preferences are taken by economists as fixed by some implicitly biological process. In recent decades, behavioral economics has documented the divergence between the nature of human preferences and the assumptions of standard economics. In this study, we use the tool of experimental evolution to study the evolution of color preferences in fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). In particular, we select for a preference for laying eggs on the color aqua. We find that the flies evolve to lay more than twice as many eggs on aqua. However, this evolution occurs entirely because the flies lay more eggs overall. The flies in this study, do not evolve to lay a higher percentage of eggs on the selected color, aqua.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-140
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Bioeconomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements Authors would like to thank Ulrich Witt, Editor of the Journal of Bioeconomics who ran the review process for this paper, and two anonymous reviewers, for their excellent comments. We also thank Pamela Tocco, Toni Walker, the students of the Dunlap Lab, and the extended Marcus-Yoakum family. In addition, we would like to thank Itachi Mills for working on an independent verification of the preference and fecundity effects. The work was supported, in part, by NSF Grant: IOS-1021183

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adaptation
  • Behavioral economics
  • Evolution
  • Experimental evolution
  • Preference theory
  • selection


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