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Data for: Marking through moults: An evaluation of visible implant elastomer to permanently mark individuals in a lower termite species

Citation

Padget, Rebecca; Thompson, Faye (2022), Data for: Marking through moults: An evaluation of visible implant elastomer to permanently mark individuals in a lower termite species, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fn2z34tv3

Abstract

1. Advances in individual marking methods have facilitated detailed studies of animal populations and behaviour as they allow tracking of individuals through time and space. Hemimetabolous insects, representing a wide range of commonly-used model organisms, present a unique challenge to individual marking as they are not only generally small-bodied, but also moult throughout development, meaning that traditional surface marks are not persistent.

2. Visible implant elastomer (VIE) offers a potential solution as small amounts of the inert polymer can be implanted under the skin or cuticle of an animal. VIE has proved useful for individually marking fish, crustaceans and amphibians in both field and laboratory studies, and has recently been successfully trialled in laboratory populations of worms and fly larvae. We trialled VIE in the single-piece nesting termite Zootermopsis angusticollis, a small hemimetabolous insect.

3. We found that there was no effect of VIE on survival and that marks persisted following moulting. However, we found some evidence that marked termites performed less allogrooming and trophallaxis than controls, although effect sizes were very small.

4. Our study suggests that VIE is an effective technique for marking small hemimetabolous insects like termites but we advocate that caution is applied, particularly when behavioural observation is important.

Methods

Data were collected as described in the publication: Padget, R. F. B. and Thompson, F. J. (2021) Marking through moults: An evaluation of visible implant elastomer to permanently mark individuals in a lower termite species. Ecology and Evolution.

We conducted a trial of visible implant elastomer in termites with one treatment and one control group. The treatment group was injected with visible implant elastomer, while the control group was not. We then censused both groups for 63 days and recorded the behaviour of each group on days 2, 4 and 10 following treatment. Census data (formatted_census_data.csv) show the number of days that termites from each housing survived. This was collected by direct observation of termites on each census day. Behaviour data (behaviour_data.csv) show either the proportion of time or the number of times that six behaviours (allogrooming, antennation, butting, environment manipulation, self-grooming, and trophallaxis) were recorded during a ten-minute video of each housing, which was coded using BORIS (Friard  & Gamba, 2016).

Usage Notes

The README file can be found as a .docx file uploaded to this repository, this contains details of how to use the dataset. The full R code for the analysis of these datasets can be found at: https://github.com/beckypadget/vie-trials. This is linked in the README and as associated software.