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Annu Rev Entomol. 2006;51:635-61.

Defecation behavior and ecology of insects.

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Biology Department, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA.


Whereas foraging has been a major focus of ecological and entomological research, its obligate partner, defecation, has been comparatively neglected. Insects exhibit a range of intriguing behavioral and morphological adaptations related to waste disposal in a range of contexts, including predator-prey interactions, hygiene, habitat location, reproduction, feeding, and shelter construction. Some insects, for example, make use of their own excrement as a physical or chemical defense against natural enemies, while others actively distance themselves from their waste material. Internally feeding insects, fluid-feeders, and social insects face particular challenges because their feeding behavior and/or site fidelity makes them especially vulnerable to problems associated with waste accumulation. As is true for foraging, ecological interactions involving defecation may have far-reaching evolutionary consequences and merit further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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