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Dispersal flight and colony development in the fungus-growing termites Pseudacanthotermes spiniger and P. militaris

Abstract : Pseudacanthotermes spiniger and P. militaris are two African fungus-growing termites (Termitidae, Macrotermitinae) which may become pests in disturbed agrosystems where they often live in sympatry. To study their development and their reproductive strategies, colonies of both species were reared in the laboratory for 20 and 17 years, respectively, after their foundation from reproductive pairs. The first steps of development were in great part similar in both species, although P. spiniger favoured the defence during the juvenile period, while P. militaris tended to favour a rapid development. While P. spiniger colonies did not produce alates until year 7 of colony life, P. militaris colonies were able to produce a fertile progeny 4 years after their foundation. In contrast, major soldiers were more rapidly differentiated in the incipient colonies of P. spiniger. Dispersal flights occurred every year for 10 years in P. spiniger. In P. militaris, dispersal flights did not occur regularly although alates appeared yearly. The annual number of alates produced by P. spiniger increased with the colony age to reach a maximum of 25,000 individuals and global production of alates was estimated at ca. 150,000 individuals in the life of a colony. The longevity of P. spiniger and P. militaris colonies was around 20 years. These species were shown to be reproductively isolated by multiple pre-mating mechanisms. While chronological differences in dispersal flights contribute to reproductive isolation of the two species, the non-viability of experimental hybrid colonies also indicates the involvement of post-mating mechanisms of isolation.
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Contributor : Alain Robert Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, May 4, 2012 - 3:49:21 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 4:08:51 AM


  • HAL Id : bioemco-00694535, version 1


Sophie Connetable, Alain Robert, Christian Bordereau. Dispersal flight and colony development in the fungus-growing termites Pseudacanthotermes spiniger and P. militaris. Insect. Soc., 2012, 59, pp.269-277. ⟨bioemco-00694535⟩



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