The 2005 ESA Annual Meeting and Exhibition
December 15-18, 2005
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

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Saturday, December 17, 2005 - 9:24 AM

Behavioral variation among individual tunnelers of subterranean termites

Paul Bardunias, and Nan-Yao Su, University of Florida, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center, 3205 College Ave, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Construction in termites has been modeled on the concept of stigmergy and the role of simple local cues in shaping the behavior of workers who are treated much like automatons. Recent work has shown that tunnel excavation, in many ways similar to construction, can be guided not only by local cues at the tunnelís burgeoning tip, but by the individual workerís ability to recall stored vector information. Analysis of the tunneling activities of marked termites (Coptotermes formosanus) shows variation in the rate, sequence, and direction of excavation among individuals. This variation accounts for some idiosyncratic aspects of tunnel morphology discovered by previous studies. The interplay between individual tunnelerís navigation ability and possible stigmergic cues at the tunnels growing tip is discussed.

Species 1: Isoptera Rhinotermitidae Coptotermes formosanus (Formosan Subterranean Termite)
Keywords: Tunneling, Navigation