Ongoing studies of the breeding system of the eastern subterranean termite have revealed a low frequency of colonies which contain the offspring of more than 2 unrelated or distantly related reproductives. These genetically complex colonies could theoretically arise via cooperative colony founding, the recruitment of unrelated reproductives into mature colonies, workers from separate colonies mixing together at foraging sites, or by whole colony fusion. We demonstrate that, at least some of the time, colony fusion provides the best explanation for the origin of these colonies. Additionally, we show that fusion has occurred repeatedly in the same colonies, suggesting that the propensity to fuse is influenced by some colony level trait.
Species 1: Isoptera Rhinotermitidae Reticulitermes flavipes (eastern subterranean termite)
Keywords: Nestmate recognition
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