Scientists are focusing on how termites coordinate mating behavior for colonial success

Credits: University of Florida

Scientists have used two of Florida’s most invasive termites to gain insight into how group-dwelling animals, especially termites, coordinate and breed leader and follower behavior. increase.

Thomas Chouvenc, assistant professor of urban insectology at the University of Florida’s Fort Lauderdale Center for Research and Education (REC), collaborated with a colleague at Arizona State University on a new study.In this study, scientists used Formosan subterranean termites Termites And Asian Underground Termites — The Two Most Invasive species In Florida.

New treatise “Coordination of movement through complementary interactions of leaders and followers in termite mating pairs” Bulletin of the Royal Society B Explore the hidden relationship between termite species behind the behavioral traits of leaders and followers.

As social insects, termite queens and aspiring kings directly influence their movements for successful mating and survival. The important thing is the female pheromone. In termites, during the mating season, winged individuals fly out of the colony to find companions and create new colonies. Women produce pheromones that allow men to find her. In this interaction, the female is the leader and the male is the follower because both partners look for a place to start the colony.

The rules of engagement that guide the behavior of leaders and followers are often species-specific. They are also believed to be the result of fine-tuning two opposite behavioral traits (lead and follow). Natural selection..

South Florida has provided a unique opportunity to further test that hypothesis. That’s why researchers turned to the Termite Institute at UF / IFAS Fort Lauderdale REC, where Chouvenc specializes in termite biology.Termite biology research provides insights into pest management strategies, but also provides new understanding of complexities. Evolutionary process..

“South Florida is home to these two exotic termites, which cause a lot of damage to structures and trees,” said Chouvenc. “They sometimes engaged in interspecific mating activities and could be mated, which gave us the ideal opportunity to test this hypothesis.”

Nobuaki Mizumoto, who led the research as a postdoctoral researcher, said, “It is difficult to test the hypothesis that the behavioral rules of leaders and followers are finely co-evolving in animal species. These two behavioral characteristics are essential. It is relevant and difficult to analyze. ” Arizona State University, currently enrolled at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University.

The new study reveals that both leaders and followers have evolved to expect a series of clues from their partners, and if these expectations are not met, coordination will collapse, Mizumoto said. Told,

“Our results show how large animal groups have come to coordinate their efforts through natural selection, or how sexual selection has sexually specific traits to meet the different expectations of partners. It affects how it is shaped, “Mizumoto concludes.

The leader-following rules for the two species can be slightly different, as the two invading termite species have evolved separately for about 18 million years, explains Chouvenc.

“Despite sharing the same pheromones, Formosan subterranean females produce far more pheromones than females of Asian underground termites,” he said. “Therefore, we hypothesized that the discrepancy between the leader and follower rules between the two species would reveal a lack of optimization due to evolutionary tweaks.”

With this unique approach, a team of researchers was able to show that male termites could not properly track female Rhinotermitidae in Asia. Underground termite males in Asia, on the other hand, can completely chase female termites.

“The results of this asymmetry were noteworthy, as it showed that male Formosan subterranean termites were unable or motivated to track females of species that produced very little pheromones, while Asian underground termites. Formosan subterranean termites produce far more pheromones than these males have evolved to track, “Chouvenc added.

“Previous collaborative studies have shown that men optimize their movements to catch up with women, woman Adapt her movements in response to feedback from the men who follow her. ” Current research emphasizes that such optimizations are the result of an evolutionary process.

The discovery of two termites Race Finding love in Florida remains a concern for its potential impact on our homes and provides an opportunity to test unique hypotheses that help us understand how animal coordination has evolved. Yes, explains Chouvenc.

Two exotic termites find love in Florida and worry researchers

For more information:
Nobuaki Mizumoto et al., Coordinating movements through complementary interactions between leaders and followers in termite mating pairs, Bulletin of the Royal Society B: Biological Science (2021). DOI: 10.1098 / rspb.2021.0998

Quote: Scientists focus on how white ants coordinate mating behavior for colony success (October 6, 2021), https: // Obtained October 6, 2021 from behavior-colony-success.html

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Scientists are focusing on how termites coordinate mating behavior for colonial success

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