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To test this hypothesis, we conducted a study among three indigenous societies—the Tsimane’, Yali, and Bhotiya—who employ natural birth control.
In all three samples, we compared the marriages arranged by parents with the non-arranged ones in terms of number of offspring.
In the latter case, both sexes invested less in reproduction (i.e., less positive response to within-pair courtship and thus less frequent copulatory behaviors) and showed poorer coordination in protecting offspring.
The video recordings revealed that light flashes were not evident under diffuse light or outdoors under a cloudy sky. Gries adds: “We found that on cloudy days, light flashes from the wings of flying females cannot be seen, which might help explain the low mating activity of these flies on cloudy days.
This suggests that flies can apparently synchronize sexual communication with environmental conditions to optimize the conspicuousness of their sexual communication signals.” Male flies were also found to be attracted to LEDs that pulsed light at a frequency that imitates the wing flash frequency of prospective mates, suggesting that it is light flash frequency, rather than the morphological characteristics of the female flies that forms the mate recognition signal.
The researchers filmed young and old male and female flies in free flight, filming 100 flies at a time within a wire mesh cage.
They also took photographs and filmed outdoors so comparisons could be made between wing flash in direct sunlight and under a cloudy sky.