Effects of energetic reserves on behavioral patterns of Mediterranean fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae)

M. S. Warburg, B. Yuval*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to associate levels of nutritional reserves (specifically lipids, sugars, and glycogen) in individual Mediterranean fruit flies, Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae), with observed patterns of behavior in the field. We collected females (n = 255) and males (n = 181) from the field, recording the time of collection and the activity they were engaged in when collected. Subsequently, we employed colorimetric biochemical techniques to determine the precise amounts of lipids, sugars, and glycogen in each individual. Lipid and sugar levels in males varied significantly according to the time of collection and the type of activity. Lipid and sugar levels in females did not vary in this manner. Sugar levels in both males and females were highest during the evening, when most feeding occurs. Males that engaged in sexual signaling in leks during the mid-afternoon had relatively low sugar and high lipid levels. Males engaged in the alternative mating tactic of fruit guarding had relatively high sugar and low lipid contents. Glycogen levels in males were high in the mornings, and a decline in glycogen content was associated with participation in leks; however, female glycogen levels did not vary significantly with time of day or activity. Our results provide quantitative evidence for the role nutrient reserves play in driving patterns of male reproductive behavior, yet suggest that factors other than sugar and lipid reserves constrain female behavior.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)314-319
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank Shlomit Shloush and Roy Kaspi for their assistance. Comments by Scott A. Field greatly improved a previous version of the manuscript. Supported by a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (94–0545) to B.Y.


  • Behavior patterns
  • Ceratitis capitata
  • Leks
  • Nutritional ecology


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