The collective activities of social insects often result in the formation of complex structures. Previous studies have revealed the building mechanisms of various species, where sophisticated colony-level structures emerge from the interactions among individuals. However, little is known about the building behaviors of primitive species, which would give us an insight into the evolutionary processes that gave rise to collective building of sophisticated structures. Therefore, in this study, I investigated the building behavior of the primitive termite Zootermopsis nevadensis, which constructs simple barricades to plug the openings to its nests. Observation of the time course of barricade construction showed that the building dynamics followed a logistic pattern, suggesting that their collective building involves an amplification phase, which plays an important role in self-organized building activities in social insects. Moreover, this species exhibited highly skewed task allocation during construction. Together, these results suggest that this primitive species possesses building mechanisms similar to species with more sophisticated collective behaviors.
Collective behavior Self-organization Social insects Stigmergy Task allocation
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I thank K. Matsuura, S. Dobata, H. Nishimori, R. Fujisawa, N. Nagaya, M. S. Abe, H. Shimoji and T. Nozaki for helpful discussion. I also thank J. Uto and T. Inagaki for help of collecting termites. Enago (http://www.enago.jp) performed the English language review. I completed the manuscript, supported by JSPS Overseas Research Fellowships (supervision by S. C. Pratt). This study was supported by a Research Fellowship for Young Scientists from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) no. 15J02767.
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