The social biology of domiciliary cockroaches: colony structure, kin recognition and collective decisions

Abstract

A substantial body of research on eusocial insects seen in the last decades has gone hand-in-hand with the development of social evolution theory. In contrast, little attention has been given to the non-eusocial insect species that nevertheless exhibit a rich spectrum of social behaviours, thus effectively skewing our vision of insect sociality. Recent studies on the behaviour, ecology and genetic of “gregarious” cockroaches (Blattodea) have revealed a diversity of social structures and group dynamics unique among insects, providing an important comparative model for the broader understanding of insect social evolution. Here, we present an overview of the social biology of the domiciliary cockroaches (ca. 25 species adapted to human habitats) based on research on two model species, Blattella germanica and Periplaneta americana. We discuss the evolution of these domiciliary cockroaches, considering them in the context of “social herds” within the insect sociality framework.

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Acknowledgments

M.L. was supported by a postgraduate grant from the French Ministry of Research and a postdoctoral fellowship from the Australian Research Council. J.T.C.’s work on insect social evolution was supported by Western Carolina University, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. C.R. was funded by the Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique.

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Lihoreau, M., Costa, J.T. & Rivault, C. The social biology of domiciliary cockroaches: colony structure, kin recognition and collective decisions. Insect. Soc. 59, 445–452 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-012-0234-x

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Keywords

  • Domiciliary cockroaches
  • Isolation syndromes
  • Kin recognition
  • Collective decisions
  • Social insects
  • Pathway pluralism