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Unformatted text preview: Unit 8 - Insect Sociality
1. Describe the difference between subsocial, parasocial and Eusocial insect behavior.
2. Describe the difference in the life histories of ants and termites.
3. Define trophallaxis, pseudergate,
4. Explain superorganism and how social insects are so successful.
What are the duties of the ant workers?
clean the grubs
obsessively and ﬁght off infections in their underground kingdoms with antiseptics from special glands. Why is an ant colony more successful since the worker ants
tend their sisters rather than have their own offspring? Workers rarely get to breed and devote themselves, like robot slaves, to the colony, tending their younger sisters, the helpless white grub.
Workers donʼt calculate the pros and cons of this life. Their behavior is programmed. But raising lots of close sisters rather than struggling to breed alone
ensures success, both for the colony and themselves What ensures long-term continuity for the ant colony? Explain this. only products that count towards long-term continuity are the winged males and future queens the colony rears, because the founding of new colonies depends on them. When do the Harvester ant colonies in Arizona release their reproductives (winged
males and future queens)? few evenings after summer rains
Who encourages the reproductives to fly away from the ant nest?
worker What do the female reproductives release to attract males?
The males fan chemicals into the air to attract queens, and, as each one arrives, a cluster of males scrambles to mate with her. Does the male or female live after he/she has mated or do they both live and found a new
colony together? If not, which sex gets to found a new colony?
Mated queens ﬂy off to start new families, while exhausted males expire in drifts on the desert ﬂoor. Who is the mother of the entire termite society? one queen How many eggs can she lay a day? How long can she live?
Who feeds her? 30,000 eggs; 30 years her children Does the male reproductive (a.k.a. the King) live in the colony? Is this different than the
ant colony, if so, how? yes, yes because ants do not have a speciﬁc "king" to mate with the queen Besides the reproductive(s), why are the rest of the termite colony members sterile?
queen secretes chemicals that stop them from breeding What are the duties of the soldier termites?
nozzle shaped head to squirt glue-like chemicals to stop enemies from inﬁltrating the nest What are the duties of the worker termites?
bring building material to patch up holes in the nest Why are social insects usually more successful than solitary insects?
the individuals can afford to risk their lives. if some die, they will be replaced by newborns in the nest. Are the majority of insects social or solitary? solitary What is subsocial behavior?
a subsocial insect would have the behavior of either aggregation or a division of labor or they would care for their eggs or their young after the eggs were laid. What is parasocial behavior? Which insects exhibit this behavior?
a common nest site but lack one or more of the other eusocial characteristics Name the three traits that distinguish eusocial insects: cooperative brood care, which means that they cooperate to take care of the babies, kind of like a daycare center. overlapping generations so they will have grandparents,
parents, offspring in multiple generations living together. reproductive division of labor, so it's a caste system, where some groups will only reproduce, some groups will care for
the young, some groups will work, etc. What is trophallaxis? transfer of food or other ﬂuids among members of a community through mouth-to-mouth (stomodeal) or anus-to-mouth (proctodeal) feeding.
It is most highly developed in social insects such as ants, termites, wasps and bees. What is kin recognition, and how do eusocial insects accomplish this?
animals' abilities to distinguish between close genetic kin and non-kin. What extraordinary abilities have highly eusocial insects evolved? We've stated before that the object of life is really to reproduce at all costs, but with eusocial behavior, you only have one group that are reproducing. So the other siblings that
donʼt reproduce arenʼt meeting that objective of the game of life. So let's change the objective a little bit. Instead of saying reproduce at all costs, let's say let's pass on our genes
at all costs.
Now we can meet the objective with eusocial behavior. Why are highly social insects sometimes considered a superorganism rather than a
colony with individual insects?
Why do eusocial insects tend to dominate the ecosystem they live in? -tasks of foraging, feeding the queen, caring for offspring and maintenance of the nest can be performed simultaneously
-ability of colony to marshal all workers can overcome serious difﬁculties such as defense against a predator
-specialization of function associated with castes allows homeostatic regulation (food, behavior, larvae, microclimatic conditions, etc.) The main objective of this section is to help you learn the differences between termite
biology and ant biology. Look for the answers to these questions about termite biology:
Which sex makes up the worker caste?
equal representation of both sexes Does the male reproductive (aka the King) get to live in the colony? If not, what
happens to him?
yes What are pseudergates? Which castes can they become later in life?
child-labor or false-worker caste. developmentally plastic and retain capacity to differentiate into other castes by molting Look for the answers to these questions about ant biology:
Which sex makes up the worker caste? Is this different than termites? How?
females. yes, termites have equal representation of both sexes. The workers take care of the ant egg, larvae and pupae present in the colony. List
5 things the workers do to take care of them:
Does the male reproductive (aka the King) get to live in the colony? If not, what
happens to him? Notes: ...
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This note was uploaded on 12/16/2011 for the course ENY 3005 taught by Professor Staff during the Summer '08 term at University of Florida.
- Summer '08