Date of Award

1-1-2009

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Timothy A. Mousseau

Abstract

All organisms experience some stress during development, and have mechanisms for countering the effects of stress. The mechanisms are costly, and if the stress is great enough, force trade-offs with other life history characters. These trade-offs may result in divergences from the optimal phenotype seen in unstressed individuals. Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies derived from populations collected near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant where they had been chronically exposed to low-level ionizing radiation for generations, and flies exposed to ionizing radiation in the laboratory, showed some disturbances in their recombination rates, their gonadal development, and their developmental stability as measured by fluctuating asymmetry. The theoretical implications of this and other stresses and selection pressures that may be operating in Drosophila melanogaster and other taxa are discussed.

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