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Naturwissenschaften. 2008 Sep;95(9):877-84. doi: 10.1007/s00114-008-0388-6. Epub 2008 May 21.

The structure of gallery networks in the nests of termite Cubitermes spp. revealed by X-ray tomography.

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Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, CNRS UMR 5169, Université Paul Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 9, France.


Recent studies have introduced computer tomography (CT) as a tool for the visualisation and characterisation of insect architectures. Here, we use CT to map the three-dimensional networks of galleries inside Cubitermes nests in order to analyse them with tools from graph theory. The structure of these networks indicates that connections inside the nest are rearranged during the whole nest life. The functional analysis reveals that the final network topology represents an excellent compromise between efficient connectivity inside the nest and defence against attacking predators. We further discuss and illustrate the usefulness of CT to disentangle environmental and specific influences on nest architecture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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