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Inquilines profit from allometric decay in the builder's defence

Inquilines profit from allometric decay in the builder's defence

by Og DeSouza -
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A new paper has been published by our group:

DeSouza et al (2016) Allometric Scaling of Patrolling Rate and Nest Volume in Constrictotermes cyphergaster Termites: Hints on the Settlement of Inquilines. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0147594. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147594

We tested the hypothesis that nest defence correlates negatively to nest volume in nests of Constrictotermes cyphergaster (Silvestri, 1901) termites (Termitidae: Nasutitermitinae), aiming to shed light on still unanswered questions regarding processes and dynamics of inquilines’ settlement in termite nests. We inspected the correlation between nest volume and one facet of defence behaviour, namely ‘patrolling rate’, i.e., the number of termite individuals attending per unit time an experimentally damaged spot on the outer wall of these termitaria. We found that patrolling rate decayed allometrically with increasing nest size, and that conspicuously lower patrolling rates occurred at volumes in the vicinity of the threshold value for the establishment of inquilinism. We suggest that such an allometric decay would create an opportunity for the establishment of termite inquiline colonies in such nests.