Population Ecology (2001) 43, 119-124

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Kenji Matsuura and Takayoshi Nishida (2001)
Comparison of colony foundation success between sexual pairs and female asexual units in the termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)
Population Ecology 43 (2), 119-124
Abstract: In termites, a male and a female usually found a colony cooperatively. However, pairing efficiency tends to be low in Reticulitermes speratus because of a limited mate-searching range, the female-biased sex ratio, and a relatively low calling ability. Females that fail to pair with males found colonies either in female-female pairs or even alone. In the laboratory, we examined colony foundation by single females (F), female-female pairs (FF), and normal male-female pairs (FM). The time until colony foundation (when termites began excavating wood baits) differed significantly among the unit types. Time until excavation was much longer for single females than for FF and FM units, which reflects the relative success of colony foundation. The survival rate of single females was also significantly lower than that of FF- and FM-unit females, although there was no difference between FF and FM units. This result demonstrates that cooperation, even female-female, promotes female survivorship. Nevertheless, the number of progeny per female was significantly lower in FF units than in FM units, possibly because females of FF units must share reproductive output. These results lead us to the conclusion that a normal monogamous pair is the best unit for colony foundation. Nevertheless, females alone can establish colonies by parthenogenesis, and even female-female cooperation promotes colony foundation success if pairing with males is not possible. Considering the functional decision for females in F and FF units of how much time to spend searching for a male mate, we believe that these facultative pathways of colony foundation by parthenogenesis have adaptive significance.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Kenji Matsuura

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

Pest and/or beneficial records:

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

Reticulitermes speratus