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ARS Home » Plains Area » Kerrville, Texas » Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Research Laboratory » LAPRU » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342028

Research Project: Cattle Fever Tick Control and Eradication

Location: Livestock Arthropod Pests Research

Title: Heterogeneous distribution of castes/instars and behaviors in the nest of Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki

Author
item Du, He - University Of Florida
item Chouvenc, Thomas - University Of Florida
item Osbrink, Weste
item Su, Nan-yao - University Of Florida

Submitted to: Insectes Sociaux
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/31/2016
Publication Date: 11/11/2016
Citation: Du, H., Chouvenc, T., Osbrink, W.L., Su, N. 2016. Heterogeneous distribution of castes/instars and behaviors in the nest of Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki. Insectes Sociaux. 64:103-112.

Interpretive Summary: Where it occurs, the Formosan termite is the most devastating termite pest in the world, and is well established in the south eastern part of the United States. Whole colonies with a king and queen were studies in large ant farms to contrast interactions of termites inside compared with outside their Royal Chamber located in the central nest. There was a gradient of termite distribution within the vicinity of the royal chamber, with the egg cluster as the center with the highest density of termites. Generally, a greater number of behavior events occurred in termites located closer to the egg. However, some behaviors occurred more often with greater distance from the egg clusters in the royal chamber, demonstrating that not all behavior frequencies were dependent on local termite density.

Technical Abstract: This study investigated age polyethism and the frequencies of behaviors in relation to the distance from the egg cluster in nests of Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, a lower termite. Juvenile colonies of C. formosanus were introduced in planar arenas and termite activity was recorded with camcorders. The results showed that there were differences in distribution of caste/instar between the royal chamber and the secondary feeding site. There was a gradient of termite distribution within the vicinity of the royal chamber, with the egg cluster as the center. A negative correlation between the number of behavioral events per individual and distance of the behavioral event from the egg cluster was found for many behaviors. However, some behaviors were positively correlated with the distance from the egg clusters in the royal chamber, implying that not all behavior frequencies were termite density dependent. Finally, most motionless termites were found near the royal chamber, presumably about to molt or recently molted. Our study confirmed the occurrence of age polyethism in C. formosanus and there was heterogeneous distribution of caste/instar and behaviors away from the egg clusters. Task division was not only instar dependent, but also location.