We investigate changes in resistance to desiccation and starvation during adaptation of Drosophila melanogaster to laboratory culture. We test the hypothesis that resistance to environmental stresses is lost under laboratory adaptation. For both traits, there was a rapid loss of resistance over a three-year period. The rapidity of the response suggested that mutation accumulation could not account for it. Rather, resistance to environmental stresses appeared to be lost as a correlated response to selection on another trait, such as early fertility, with which stress resistance is negatively genetically correlated. These results suggest that caution is needed when extrapolating from evolution of stress resistance in long-established laboratory stocks to patterns of responses and correlated responses in natural populations.
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Vol. 55 • No. 2