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Coordination of movement via complementary interactions of leaders and followers in termite mating pairs.

Citation

Mizumoto, Nobuaki et al. (2021), Coordination of movement via complementary interactions of leaders and followers in termite mating pairs., Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9w0vt4bf9

Abstract

Leadership of animal group movements depends on social feedback, hence leader’s signals and follower’s responses should be attuned to each other. However, leader and follower roles are difficult to disentangle in species with high levels of coordination. To overcome this challenge, we investigated a simple case of movement coordination: termite pairs in which a female leads a male as they search for a nest site. To tease apart leader and follower roles, we created conspecific and heterospecific pairs of Coptotermes gestroi and C. formosanus, which share a pairing pheromone so that males follow females of either species. Conspecific pairs were stable for both species, even though C. gestroi females produce less pheromone than C. formosanus. Heterospecific pairs with C. gestroi males were also stable, but not those with C. formosanus males. We attributed this difference to the C. gestroi male’s unique capacity to follow females that release small amounts of pheromone; C. formosanus males cannot follow or reject C. gestroi females as unsuitable. This conclusion was supported by an information-theoretic analysis that detected information flow from female to male in only stable tandems. Despite their following ability, C. gestroi males lost to C. formosanus males in competitions to follow C. formosanus females. Thus, partner selection has shaped the species-specific association of mating pairs. Our results demonstrate that a similar level of coordination can emerge from distinct sets of complementary sender-receiver interactions.

Methods

All data were generated from video analysis (tracking of individuals in tandem) using UMATracker. For processing, please read the readme files.

Funding

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: 20J00660

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Award: FLA-FLT 005660

National Science Foundation, Award: 1754083

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: 21K15168