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Evidence of cue synergism in termite corpse response behavior.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22167071     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Subterranean termites of the genus Reticulitermes are known to build walls and tubes and move considerable amounts of soil into wood but the causes of this behavior remain largely unexplored. In laboratory assays, we tested the hypothesis that Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks) would carry more sand into wooden blocks containing corpses compared to corpse-free controls. We further predicted that the corpses of predatory ants would elicit a stronger response than those of a benign beetle species or nestmates. As hypothesized, significantly more sand was carried into blocks containing corpses and this material was typically used to build partitions separating the dead from the rest of the colony. Contrary to expectations, however, this behavior did not vary among corpse types. We then tested the hypothesis that oleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid released during arthropod decay and used by ants and other arthropod taxa in corpse recognition, would induce a similar building response in R. virginicus. To additionally determine the role of foreign objects in giving rise to this behavior, the experiment was carried out with and without imitation corpses (i.e., small glass beads). As predicted, oleic acid induced building (a tenfold increase) but only when applied to beads, suggesting strong synergism between tactile and chemical cues. Oleic acid also significantly reduced the amount of wood consumed by R. virginicus and may possess useful repellent properties.
Authors:
Michael D Ulyshen; Thomas G Shelton
Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2011-12-14
Journal Detail:
Title:  Die Naturwissenschaften     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1432-1904     ISO Abbreviation:  -     Publication Date:  2011 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-12-14     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0400767     Medline TA:  Naturwissenschaften     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Affiliation:
USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Starkville, MS, 39759, USA, mulyshen@fs.fed.us.
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