Professor Alison Pischedda


On August 3, 2023, Alison Pischedda, assistant professor of biology, published new research in The Journal of Evolutionary Biology, alongside laboratory technician Avigayil Lev ’22. The paper, “Male size does not affect the strength of male mate choice for high-quality females in Drosophila melanogaster,” investigates the sexual preferences of the male fruit fly, or Drosophila melanogaster, to determine if large and small male flies exhibit different tendencies when it comes to selecting a female mate. 

Pischedda and Lev explain that current theory predicts “higher-quality,” large males should have stronger sexual preferences than their smaller counterparts, as larger males typically benefit more from being “choosy.” Their study sought to test this prediction by measuring male flies’ courtship behaviors and mating duration, as well as the differences in fitness benefits associated with their sexual preferences.

The researchers’ results indicate that male body size did not have an impact on the strength of the male flies’ preference for large, high-fecundity female mates. They determined that this is likely because large and small males were equally successful at mating with these “preferred” females and because male body size did not affect the fitness benefits that the male flies received. Pischedda and Lev assert that these findings highlight the importance of evaluating the costs and benefits of male mate choice across multiple males to better predict when differences in male mate choice might occur.