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Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 237–252 | Cite as

Temporal polyethism in incipient colonies of the primitive termiteZootermopsis angusticollis: A single multiage caste

  • Rebeca B. Rosengaus
  • James F. A. Traniello
Article

Abstract

Division of labor was studied in incipient colonies of the dampwood termite Zootermopsis angusticollisby recording repertoire size, behavior frequencies, and time budgets of larvae. Behavioral repertoire size increased with age: first- and secondinstar larvae were mainly inactive, whereas larvae of the third through seventh instars performed 64–100% of all tasks. The increase in repertoire size from the second to the third instar was abrupt; repertoire size and composition remained more or less constant for older instars. No correlation between age (instars III–VII) and tasks was identified, suggesting that colony labor is performed by a single functional caste that spans the third to the seventh instar without any age-based division of labor. Small colony size, low oviposition rate, simple nest architecture, a lack of spatial association of tasks, and the potential for attaining reproductive status appear to be associated with the lack of age-related behavioral specialization in Z. angusticollis.In effect, the absence of temporal polyethism in this species is likely a consequence of its nesting habits and physiological and developmental constraints.

Key words

social behavior polyethism termite caste evolution 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebeca B. Rosengaus
    • 1
  • James F. A. Traniello
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyBoston UniversityBoston

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