Effect of nutritional condition on larval food requisition behavior in a subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

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4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although optimal investment theory would be similarly applicable to eusocial insects to maximize colony reproductive outputs, directly distinguishing an amount of investment in each larva should be a difficult task for workers because of the characteristics of group living. Thus, it is expected that workers adjust brood care by using a cue or signal conveying information of larval status. In termites, which are typical group of eusocial insects, there are nevertheless few direct observations on worker brood care and little is known about cues inducing worker feeding. I show here that a Japanese subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus uses an overt food solicitation by larva, "pecking", as a cue for worker feeding. Direct observations demonstrated that workers feed larvae in response to larval pecking. Furthermore, nutritional experiments showed that larvae exhibited pecking more frequently when their nutrient status is lower; hence, pecking may be an honest reflection of larval hunger status. These results indicate that workers can feed more starved larvae than less starved ones because pecking honestly reflects larval hunger state. That is, feeding in response to pecking should standardize the total amount of food intake of each larva and help a termite colony make worker investment efficient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Ethology
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Eusocial insects
  • Honest signal
  • Observation experiment
  • Optimal investment
  • Worker brood care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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