Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher K. Starr

Colony Foundation

  • Christian PeetersEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_26-1

Efficient cooperation and division of tasks among nestmates are the strength of insect societies, yet in most species this cooperation is absent while new colonies are beginning. For several weeks, a lone founding queen (queen and king in termites) faces the same challenges as solitary insects to produce her offspring. Although her brood survives better in the safety of a rudimentary nest, foraging is always associated with high mortality risk. A proportion of social Hymenoptera have reduced risks by evolving two very distinct adaptations: (i) in three large subfamilies of ants (80% of all species), solitary founding queens no longer forage, because the first larvae can develop on their mother’s internal metabolic reserves, or food obtained from mutualistic fungi or scale insects, or food obtained from parasitism of foreign ant colonies; (ii) in many species across all lineages, established colonies can split into daughter colonies, so that founding queens are helped by nestmate...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Ecology and Environmental SciencesSorbonne UniversitéParisFrance