Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher K. Starr

Colony Defense, Survival and Reproduction

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_25-2
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Social insect species concentrate resources into a dense colony, including nest structures, stored food, brood, and adult members. In doing so they create a “jackpot” for other animals (including other social insects), that would not otherwise be interested in a single individual or nest. Hence, colony defense is a key factor in the survival and reproduction of social insects. This article discusses both colony-level defense and individual defense as the mechanisms involved in these contexts are largely overlapping.

Defense can be understood on four interacting levels. First is the boundary to be defended, which we call the fortress. Defended areas can be expansive territories that encompass feeding areas in a large radius around the nest, the nest itself, or substructures within the nest that protect particularly valuable resources, such as the queen. Consideration of the fortress involves the evolution of both territorial strategies and nest architecture. Second are the armaments...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  2. 2.Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyThe University of Colorado, BoulderBoulderUSA