Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 17–24 | Cite as

Allee effect in termite colony formation: influence of alate density and flight timing on pairing success and survivorship

  • A. Kusaka
  • K. Matsuura
Research Article


The Allee effect is a positive relationship between any component of individual fitness and the density of conspecifics. Theoretical models predict that monogamy, where males and females are constrained from having multiple mates, is more susceptible to the Allee effect. In most termite species, including Reticulitermes spp., found new colonies by monogamous pairs (i.e., primary king and queen); however, little is known about the effects of alate density and flight timing on pairing and colony foundation success. In this study, a positive relationship between alate density and pairing success was observed in the subterranean termite, Reticulitermes speratus. Upon release of dealates (individuals after shedding wings) every 3 days for 9 days at 10, 20, 40, or 80 pairs/m2/day in a semi-natural field, no pairs were observed for the 10 pairs/m2/day treatment after 3 months. However, 7.5, 13.8, and 18.1% of dealates formed pairs in the 20, 40, and 80 pairs/m2/day groups, respectively. Most pairs (78.7%) comprised dealates released simultaneously, and 17.3 and 4% comprised dealates released 3 and 6 days apart, respectively. R. speratus also preferred brown rotten pine for colony foundations to white rotten oak. This study provides important new insights into the density effects and nest-site preference for termite colony foundation.


Swarming Density effect Reticulitermes speratus Nest-site choice Dispersal Monogamous pairing 



We thank K. Kobayashi, Y. Namba, R. Tanaka, C. Iwata, T. Nozaki, K. Takeuchi, Y. Miyaguni for their assistance with conducting the experiment; and N. Mizumoto and S. Dobata for valuable discussion and their assistance with data analysis. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Kiban Kenkyu S: 25221206 to KM).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 19 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 18 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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