Lack of aggression and apparent altruism towards intruders in a primitive termite
Vitikainen, Emma I. K.
Marshall, Harry H.
van Rooyen, Wilmie
Smith, Robert L.
Cant, Michael A.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Dept Entomol
MetadataShow full item record
CitationLack of aggression and apparent altruism towards intruders in a primitive termite 2016, 3 (11):160682 Royal Society Open Science
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Rights2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
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AbstractIn eusocial insects, the ability to discriminate nest-mates from non-nest-mates is widespread and ensures that altruistic actions are directed towards kin and agonistic actions are directed towards non-relatives. Most tests of nest-mate recognition have focused on hymenopterans, and suggest that cooperation typically evolves in tandem with strong antagonism towards non-nest-mates. Here, we present evidence from a phylogenetically and behaviourally basal termite species that workers discriminate members of foreign colonies. However, contrary to our expectations, foreign intruders were the recipients of more rather than less cooperative behaviour and were not subjected to elevated aggression. We suggest that relationships between groups may be much more peaceable in basal termites compared with eusocial hymenoptera, owing to energetic and temporal constraints on colony growth, and the reduced incentive that totipotent workers (who may inherit breeding status) have to contribute to self-sacrificial intergroup conflict.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsRoyal Society University Research Fellowship