, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 1-17

Behavioural Interactions Between Crematogaster brevispinosa rochai Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and Two Nasutitermes Species (Isoptera: Termitidae)

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Abstract

In the savanna-like Brazilian biome “caatinga,“ the arboreal and polydomous ant Crematogaster brevispinosa rochai can be found cohabiting with two closely related Nasutitermes species (N. corniger and N. ephratae). This ant occupies variably sized portions of the termite nests and maintains a physical separation with its hosts by plugging the cells of the boundary areas with fibrous material. Although all the analysed cohabiting C. b. rochai nests were queenless, they always contained brood, especially from male and female reproductive castes. Interaction experiments between workers of C. b. rochai and workers or soldiers of N. ephratae revealed a low level of aggressiveness between the two species that contrasts with the aggressiveness of both C. b. rochai and N. ephratae in encounters with other ant (Azteca cf. chartifex, Cephalotes pusillus) or termite (M. cf. indistinctus) species. The association could benefit both ants (additional nesting sites, brood rearing places) and termites (protection against predators, dead ants or ant refuses as source of nitrogen).