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Behav Processes. 2015 Jul;116:8-11. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2015.04.004. Epub 2015 Apr 9.

Arrestant property of recently manipulated soil on Macrotermes michaelseni as determined through visual tracking and automatic labeling of individual termite behaviors.

Author information

1
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 33 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, 60 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
2
Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse, New York 13210, USA. Electronic address: paulmb@ufl.edu.
3
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, 60 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
4
Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.

Abstract

The construction of termite nests has been suggested to be organized by a stigmergic process that makes use of putative cement pheromone found in saliva and recently manipulated soil ("nest material"), hypothesized to specifically induce material deposition by workers. Herein, we tracked 100 individuals placed in arenas filled with a substrate of half nest material, half clean soil, and used automatic labeling software to identify behavioral states. Our findings suggest that nest material acts to arrest termites; termites prefer to spend time on nest material when compared against clean soil. Residency time was significantly greater, and all construction behaviors occurred significantly more often on nest material. The arrestant function of nest material must be accounted for in experiments that seek semiochemical cues for the organization of labor. Future research will focus on the manner in which termites combine olfaction with tactile cues as well as other organizing factors during construction.

KEYWORDS:

Arrestant; Autolabeling; Cement pheromone; Macrotermes; Termite

PMID:
25865171
DOI:
10.1016/j.beproc.2015.04.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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