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

Kirstin Petersen, Paul Bardunias, Nils Napp, Justin Werfel, Radhika Nagpal, Scott Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-11
Number of pages4
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume116
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Keywords

  • Arrestant
  • Autolabeling
  • Cement pheromone
  • Macrotermes
  • Termite

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