In insect societies, the presence of reproductives or eggs has been shown to shape several biological traits in the colony members. Social interactions are one of these traits, that involve modification of the communication system of the entire colony. Many studies described the role of chemical compounds and dominance behaviors in the presence of reproductive but vibratory behaviors received very few investigations. Yet, vibratory behaviors are ideal candidates, particularly for subterranean species like termites, as they could be quickly transmitted through the substrate and could be very diversified (origin, modulation). Here, we investigated whether the presence of reproductives/eggs affects the vibratory behavior (body-shaking) of workers in the subterranean termite Reticulitermes flavipes. Our results reveal that the presence of reproductives or eggs triggers an increase of workers' body-shaking, independent of their colony of origin after 24h. We hypothesize that vibratory communication could be used to transfer information about the presence of reproductives and eggs to the entire colony, suggesting that vibratory behaviors could serve as an important yet neglected mediator of social regulation.
Data were recorded and analyzed blindly regarding the treatments.
Conseil régional du Centre-Val de Loire, Award: APR-IR 2017-00117111
Conseil régional du Centre-Val de Loire, Award: APR-IA 2012