Advertisement

Journal of Ethology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 17–22 | Cite as

Effect of nutritional condition on larval food requisition behavior in a subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

  • Kazutaka Kawatsu
Article

Abstract

Although optimal investment theory would be similarly applicable to eusocial insects to maximize colony reproductive outputs, directly distinguishing an amount of investment in each larva should be a difficult task for workers because of the characteristics of group living. Thus, it is expected that workers adjust brood care by using a cue or signal conveying information of larval status. In termites, which are typical group of eusocial insects, there are nevertheless few direct observations on worker brood care and little is known about cues inducing worker feeding. I show here that a Japanese subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus uses an overt food solicitation by larva, “pecking”, as a cue for worker feeding. Direct observations demonstrated that workers feed larvae in response to larval pecking. Furthermore, nutritional experiments showed that larvae exhibited pecking more frequently when their nutrient status is lower; hence, pecking may be an honest reflection of larval hunger status. These results indicate that workers can feed more starved larvae than less starved ones because pecking honestly reflects larval hunger state. That is, feeding in response to pecking should standardize the total amount of food intake of each larva and help a termite colony make worker investment efficient.

Keywords

Eusocial insects Optimal investment Worker brood care Observation experiment Honest signal 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank Dr. Kenji Fujisaki for help with the study. I also thank Prof. Kenji Matsuura for reading and helpful comments on the manuscript. This study was partly supported by the 21st century COE Program for Innovative Food and Environmental Studies Pioneered by Entomomimetic Sciences, from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan, and a Research Fellowship for Young Scientists from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MPG 2016 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (MPG 2294 kb)

References

  1. Brian MV (1977) Ants. Collins, GlasgowGoogle Scholar
  2. Cabrera BJ, Rust MK (1999) Caste differences in feeding and trophallaxis in the western drywood termite, Incistermes minor (Hagen) (Isoptera, Kalotermitidae). Insect Soc 46:244–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cassill DL, Tschinkel WR (1995) Allocation of liquid food to larvae via trophallaxis in colonies of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Anim Behav 50:801–813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clutton-Brock TH (1991) The evolution of parental care. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  5. Creemers B, Billen J, Gobin B (2003) Larval begging behaviour in the ant Myrmica rubra. Ethol Ecol Evol 15:261–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Godfray HCJ (1995) Evolutionary theory of parent-offspring conflict. Nature 376:133–138PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Huang QY, Wang WP, Mo RY, Lei CL (2008) Studies on feeding and trophallaxis in the subterranean termite Odontotermes formosanus using rubidium chloride. Entomol Exp Appl 129:210–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ishay J, Schwartz A (1973) Acoustical communication between the members of the oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis) colony. J Acoust Soc Am 63:640–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kaptein N, Billen J, Gobin B (2005) Larval begging for food enhances reproductive options in the ponerine ant Gnamptogenys striatula. Anim Behav 69:293–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Korb J (2005) Regulation of sexual development in the basal termite Cryptotermes secundus: mutilation, pheromonal manipulation or honest signal? Naturwissenschaften 92:45–49PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. LaFage JP, Nutting WL (1978) Nutrient dynamics of termites. In: Brian MV (ed) Production ecology of ants and termites. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 165–232Google Scholar
  12. Lainé LV, Wright DJ (2003) The life cycle of Reticulitermes spp. (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae): what do we know? Bull Entomol Res 93:267–278PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Le Conte Y, Sreng L, Poitout SH (1995) Brood pheromone can modulate the feeding behavior of Apis mellifera Workers (Hymenoptera: Apidae). J Econ Entomol 88:798–804Google Scholar
  14. Machida M, Kitade O, Miura T, Matsumoto T (2001) Nitrogen recycling through proctodeal trophallaxis in the Japanese damp-wood termite Hodotermopsis japonica (Isoptera, Termopsidae). Insect Soc 48:52–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Matsuura M, Yamane S (1990) Biology of the Vespine wasps. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McMahan EA (1969) Feeding relationships and radioactive techniques. In: Krishna K, Weesner FM (eds) Biology of termites, vol 1. Academic, New York, pp 387–406Google Scholar
  17. O’Neal J, Markin GP (1973) Brood nutrition and parental relationships of the imported red fire ant Solenopsis invicta. J Georgia Entomol Soc 8:294–303Google Scholar
  18. Rosengaus RB, Traniello JFA (2001) Disease susceptibility and the adaptive nature of colony demography in the dampwood termite Zootermopsis angusticollis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 50:546–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Shellman-Reeve JS (1990) Dynamics of biparental care in the dampwood termite, Zootermopsis nevadensis (Hagen): response to nitrogen availability. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 26:389–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Smiseth PT, Moore AJ (2002) Does resource availability affect offspring begging and parental provisioning in a partially begging species? Anim Behav 63:577–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Smith CC, Fretwell SD (1974) The optimal balance between size and number of offspring. Am Nat 108:499–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Takematsu Y (1992) Biometrical study on the development of the castes in Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae). Jpn J Entomol 60:67–76Google Scholar
  23. Thorne BL, Traniello JFA (2003) Comparative social biology of basal taxa of ants and termites. Annu Rev Entomol 48:283–306PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Trivers RL (1974) Parent–offspring conflict. Am Zool 14:249–264Google Scholar
  25. Wilson EO (1971) The insect societies. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Yanagawa A, Shimizu S (2005) Defense strategy of the termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki to entomophatogenic fungi. Jpn J Env Entomol Z 16:17–22Google Scholar
  27. Yanagawa A, Yokohari F, Shimizu S (2009) The role of antennae in removing entomopathogenic fungi from cuticle of the termite, Coptotermes formosanus. J Insect Sci 9:6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations