Animal aggregation is a general phenomenon in ecological systems. Aggregations are generally considered as an evolutionary advantageous state in which members derive the benefits of mate choice and protection against natural enemies, balanced by the costs of limiting resources and intraspecific competition. Many insects use chemical information to find conspecifics and to form aggregations. In this study, we describe a spatio-temporal simulation model designed to explore and quantify the effects of the strength of chemical attraction, on the colonization ability of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) population. We found that the use of infochemicals is crucial for colonizing an area. Fruit flies subject to an Allee effect that are unable to respond to chemical information could not successfully colonize the area and went extinct within four generations. This was mainly caused by very high mortality due to the Allee effect. Even when the Allee effect did not play a role, the random dispersing population had more difficulties in colonizing the area and is doomed to extinction in the long run. When fruit flies had the ability to respond to chemical information, they successfully colonized the orchard. This happened faster, for stronger attraction to chemical information. In addition, more fruit flies were able to find the resources and the settlement on the resources was much higher. This resulted in a reduced mortality due to the Allee effect for fruit flies able to respond to chemical information. Odor-mediated aggregation thus enhances the colonization ability of D. melanogaster. Even a weak attraction to chemical information paved the way to successfully colonize the orchard.
- chemical information
- species coexistence