Tuesday, 28 October 2003

This presentation is part of : Display Presentations, Section Cd. Behavior and Ecology

Life history changes in termites infected with an acanthocephalan parasite

Claire A. Fuller and Punidan D. Jeyasingh. Murray State University, Dept. of Biology, 334 Blackburn Hall, Murray, KY

Although numerous factors that affect termite population dynamics have been documented, the role of parasitism has received little attention. We are examining the association between an acanthocephalan parasite and survival, reproduction and growth of the Caribbean termite (Nasutitermes acajutlae). We examined these parameters yearly in > 100 termite colonies for 4 years. In 2001 and 2002, we also compared the rate at which parasitized and unparasitized colonies rebuilt damaged foraging trails because trails protect foragers from predation as well as fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Although there were no significant differences in survival between parasitized colonies and unparasitized colonies, parasitized colonies reproduced significantly less often and rebuilt foraging trails significantly more slowly than unparasitized colonies. However, parasitized colonies grew significantly faster than unparasitized colonies in one year of the study. We conclude that the acanthocephalan parasite is associated with significant alteration of population parameters of N. acajutlae. However, the overall impact on colony fitness is unclear.

Species 1: Isoptera Termitidae Nasutitermes acajutlae
Keywords: reproduction

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