Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher Starr

Nest Homeostasis

  • Samuel N. BeshersEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_161-1


Steady state; Thermoregulation

Homeostasis is the maintenance of ordered and stable conditions inside a living system. Nest homeostasis is an application of this principle to the nests of social insects, the active maintenance of nest conditions through the actions of workers. Studies of nest homeostasis and the behavior involved in its maintenance have shed important light on ecology, communication, division of labor, and social cognition. François Huber appears to have been the first to study homeostasis in a social insect, with his studies of atmospheric regulation inside the hive of honey bees [2], anticipating our modern concept of sociophysiology, as well as individual response thresholds and their relevance for division of labor.

Familiar examples of nest homeostasis include the regulation of temperature, humidity, and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, but a broader concept of homeostasis includes the maintenance of any form of dynamic order in the colony, such as the...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA