Paired fruit flies synchronize behavior: Uncovering social interactions in Drosophila melanogaster.
Social behaviors are ubiquitous and crucial to an animal's survival and success. The behaviors an animal performs in a social setting are affected by internal factors, inputs from the environment, and interactions with others. To quantify social behaviors, we need to measure both the stochastic nature of the behavior of isolated individuals and how this behavioral repertoire changes as a function of the environment and interactions between individuals. We probed the behavior of male and female fruit flies in a circular arena as individuals and within all possible pairings. By combining measurements of the animals' position in the arena with an unsupervised analysis of their behaviors, we define the effects of position in the environment and the presence of a partner on locomotion, grooming, singing, and other behaviors that make up an animal's repertoire. We find that geometric context tunes behavioral preference, pairs of animals synchronize their behavioral preferences across shared trials, and paired individuals display signatures of behavioral mimicry.