FORAGING PARTY AND TERRITORY SIZE OF THE DESERT SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE HETEROTERMES AUREUS (SNYDER) IN A SONORAN DESERT GRASSLAND (ARIZONA).
AuthorJONES, SUSAN CATHERINE.
AdvisorNutting, William L.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractForaging party and territory size of Heterotermes aureus (Snyder) were investigated on the Santa Rita Experimental Range south of Tucson, Arizona. A comparison of three techniques for delineating territorial extent suggested that the release and recapture of dyed termites was most useful, while agonistic behavior among termites may reflect past as well as current associations. Spatial and temporal patterns of termite attack on baits proved to be unreliable. Data obtained via the release and recapture of dyed termites indicated that most territories encompassed an area of several hundred to thousand square meters. These data sharply contrast with those obtained via spatial and temporal patterns of termite attack, which provided an estimate of 9.2 m² for average territory size. Although agonistic responses were useful for differentiating H. aureus colonies, the lack of this behavior among termites did not necessarily imply a current relationship, as they may have been from subgroups that previously had budded off from each other. These groups may be headed by neotenic reproductives, which were found for the first time under field conditions for this species. Data on foraging party size obtained via a mark-release-recapture technique indicated that many H. aureus colonies contained from ca. 50,000 to 300,000 foragers. However, the validity of these estimates is suspect because several of the assumptions of this technique were not met, i.e., marked individuals did not completely mix in the population, but their numbers tended to be more concentrated near release sites, and colonies may have represented open populations. However, exhaustive trapping data also indicated that colonies may contain tens or hundreds of thousands of foragers. As many as 100,000 foragers in a single colony were removed from fiberboard traps during a 1.5-year period. The average foraging party consisted of 1,456 individuals, of which 8.6% were soldiers.