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Frisky Female Fruit Flies Fornicate Freely in Frigid Temperatures

posted: 10/27/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
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It looks like humans aren't the only ones who can't resist cuddling weather.

A new study from the University of Exeter finds that female fruit flies in colder regions are inclined to have more sexual partners than their warm-weather counterparts, who are largely more content with monogamy.

Researchers collected fruit flies from different climates across the United States and observed their reproductive behavior under laboratory settings, trying to understand whether environmental factors or genetic conditions were more influential in determining flies' mating behavior.

Fruit fly on colorful object
Jamesmcq24/iStock

Although environmental factors can "encourage" a female fly to change her behavior, researchers ultimately concluded that a fly's genetic background is the most determining important factor. Some flies, researchers say, are genetically predisposed to monogamy, while others have decidedly polyamorous inclinations.

"It makes sense biologically for females to have a number of partners as they will produce more offspring that are more genetically diverse and survive better," Dr. Michelle Taylor, from Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation, explains in a news release.

"What is interesting, and what needs further research, is the question of why some females stay with one partner. We don't know what maintains monogamy," she adds.

Taylor's research is published in the most recent edition of the journal Behavioral Ecology.

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