Fly Fights And Brain Chemicals


Serotonin, the same chemical that triggers the feeling of happiness in humans, can be responsible for aggression in many insect species. One insect is the Stalk-eyed fly. Famous for their long protruding eyes used to attract females, these male flies will often fight with one another for competing resources. But what makes them decided when to fight or how hard? Researchers measured serotonin levels to see if they were related to the probability of winning a fly fight. Students will analyze the data collected to determine if Serotonin has an impact on these flies fighting power.

Data Nuggets are NGSS-aligned lesson-plans that build off of real-world research and data. Each Data Nugget comes with three student versions, based on the type of graphing skills required. Type A activities provide the graph for the students (allowing a focus on graph interpretation, making claims based on evidence, and explaining reasoning), Type B activities provide axis labels but requires students to graph the data, and Type C provides an unlabeled grid on which to draw a graph.

Supplemental resources for this lesson:

  • Grading Rubric
  • Teacher guide/answer key (available via email)
  • Links to original research paper
  • News article about the research
  • Video of stalk-eyed fly fights
  • Video overview of stalk-eyed flies

There are several Data Nuggets focused on Stalk-Eyed Flies:

Additional information

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Standards Present


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