Journal of Economic Entomology (2020) 113, 905-910

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Jayshree S. Patel, Sang-Bin Lee, Thomas Chouvenc and Nan-Yao Su (2020)
Inferring termite colony size using wood consumption in subterranean termites (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae) in laboratory-rearing conditions
Journal of Economic Entomology 113 (2), 905-910
Abstract: Termite colony size can influence its foraging activity, reproductive maturity, and, for pest species, potential for structural damage. Estimating colony size of subterranean termite species in field conditions has been challenging owing to their extensive foraging territory and their cryptic nesting habit and has primarily relied on mark–recapture methods. With laboratory-reared colonies in individual containers, determining colony size can be achieved by processing all termites from the nest material, which can be labor intensive and partially destructive. However, with the recent rise in the need of large laboratory colonies for use in colony-wide experimental protocols, there was an imperative to develop a procedure to estimate initial colony sizes without imposing a major stress on colonies before an experiment. In this study, the average daily wood consumption of whole colonies was used to infer the colony size of two Coptotermes, Wasmann (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae) species and their hybrids in laboratory-rearing conditions. Correlations between the daily wood consumption and several demographic variables within colonies were established. Linear models varied across all species mating types with R2 values greater than 0.8 for all demographic variables. For colonies from all mating combinations, Pearson's correlation coefficient values were greater than 0.94 between their daily wood consumption and both the number of workers and total number of termites, and greater than 0.91 between daily wood consumption and colony mass. Therefore, in colonies with fixed laboratory conditions, their average daily wood consumption determination, which is nondestructive on colonies, can be used to infer colony size of subterranean termites.
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Database assignments for author(s): Thomas Chouvenc, Nan-Yao Su

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Coptotermes formosanus Wood products U.S.A. (SE)
Coptotermes gestroi Wood products U.S.A. (SE)