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The Role of Resource Density on Energy Allocation in the Neotropical Termite Nasutitermes aff. coxipoensis (Termitidae: Nasutitermitinae)

Cristaldo, PF, Almeida, CS, Cruz, NG, Ribeiro, EJ M, Rocha, ML C, Santos, AA, Santana, AS, Araújo, AP A
Neotropical entomology 2018 v.47 no.3 pp. 329-335
Nasutitermes, energy, field experimentation, nests, rearing, reproduction, social insects
Organisms acquire energy from environment and must allocate it among different life traits (growth, maintenance and reproduction). Social insects must manage the energy allocation to various levels such as colony growth and caste functions. Here, we addressed the question of whether resource density affects the energy allocation to the number of individuals and caste functions as well as nest’s growth rate in the Neotropical termite Nasutitermes aff. coxipoensis (Homgren) (Termitidae: Nasutitermitinae). In a manipulative field experiment, colonies of N. aff. coxipoensis, with known volume, were maintained in plots with three different resource’s density (0.32, 0.64 and 1.92 baits/m²) over 3 months. After this period, the number of individuals as well as the caste identity and nest volume were measured. Surprisingly, our results showed that colonies reared in the extremes of resource’s density (0.32 and 1.92 baits/m²) produced a higher number of individuals compared with colonies reared with intermediate resource density (0. 64 baits/m²). The mean number of workers increased linearly with resource density; however, the average number of immature was higher in colonies reared with 0.32 baits/m² compared with colonies reared with 0.64 and 1.92 baits/m². No significant differences of resource density were observed in the mean number of soldiers, worker/soldier ratio as well as in the nest’s growth rate. In conclusion, the resource’s density seems to play an important role in determining the investment of energy in the number of individuals and caste in N. aff. coxipoensis colonies.