Most experiments on the flight behavior of have been performed within confined laboratory chambers, yet the natural history of these animals involves dispersal that takes place on a much larger spatial scale. Thirty years ago, a group of population geneticists performed a series of mark-and-recapture experiments on flies, which demonstrated that even cosmopolitan species are capable of covering 10 km of open desert, probably in just a few hours and without the possibility of feeding along the way. In this review I revisit these fascinating and informative experiments and attempt to explain how—from takeoff to landing—the flies might have made these journeys based on our current knowledge of flight behavior. This exercise provides insight into how animals generate long behavioral sequences using sensory-motor modules that may have an ancient evolutionary origin.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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