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Temperature studies of termite colonies in living trees

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Abstract

Temperatures inside colonies of Coptotermes acinaciformis and C. frenchi in living trees are well above those recorded in neighbouring, uninfested, parts of the tree. Temperature readings in a colony of C. acinaciformis varied from 33 to 38°C, i.e. 13–20 degC above that at the centre of the tree trunk. The winter temperatures are associated with the aggregation of termites in the nursery. The movement of termites in the colony was reflected in changes in the nursery temperature. The nursery temperature of a C. frenchi colony showed little diurnal variation; throughout the year the temperature varied from 27 to 36°C, the highest temperatures being recorded in November when alates were present. The tree insulated the C. frenchi colony against fluctuating air temperature in much the same way as a mound insulates a colony of C. lacteus. Temperature studies of this kind have been useful in assessing the results of insecticide treatments.

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... Some termites generate metabolic heat and cluster together to achieve stable nest temperatures. In the Australian termites Coptotermes acinaciformis and C. frenchi, the bark and wood of the living tree, and the walls of the nursery provide effective insulation, retaining heat within the nursery (Greaves, 1964). In colonies of both species, a difference of up to 20 1C is recorded between the metabolically-generated temperature at the centre of the nursery and the centre of an uncolonized tree (Greaves, 1964). ...
... In the Australian termites Coptotermes acinaciformis and C. frenchi, the bark and wood of the living tree, and the walls of the nursery provide effective insulation, retaining heat within the nursery (Greaves, 1964). In colonies of both species, a difference of up to 20 1C is recorded between the metabolically-generated temperature at the centre of the nursery and the centre of an uncolonized tree (Greaves, 1964). The area of elevated temperature in the nursery is smaller in winter than in summer, suggesting that the termites aggregate in winter (Greaves, 1964). ...
... In colonies of both species, a difference of up to 20 1C is recorded between the metabolically-generated temperature at the centre of the nursery and the centre of an uncolonized tree (Greaves, 1964). The area of elevated temperature in the nursery is smaller in winter than in summer, suggesting that the termites aggregate in winter (Greaves, 1964). ...
Article
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Most social insect species are able to regulate the temperature within their nests. In this review, we examine the variety of mechanisms that social insect species have evolved to regulate temperature. We divide these mechanisms into two broad categories: active and passive. ‘Passive’ temperature regulation includes such mechanisms as nest site selection to optimize internal nest temperature, nest structures that permit passive heating or cooling, or simple behaviour such as brood translocation to regions within a nest where temperatures are most favourable. ‘Active’ temperature regulation refers to behaviour where individuals modify nest temperature by physical activity like wing fanning or evaporative cooling.Although there is enormous variation in the thermoregulatory mechanisms, there are also many similarities. All thermoregulatory mechanisms are self-organized and arise from simple rules followed by each individual worker.
... For the latter, it has been shown that colony size affects temperature variability in the nest [52]. However, nests of the Australian termite Coptotermes frenchi, which inhabits living trees, experience annual temperature variations from 27 to 36°C, though diurnal fluctuations are small [53]. ...
Article
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Social insects seem to have overcome the almost universal trade-off between fecundity and longevity as queens can be highly fecund and at the same time reach lifespans of decades. By contrast, their non-reproducing workers are often short-lived. One hypothesis to explain the long lifespan of queens is that they are better protected against stress than their workers. However, evidence is controversial and experimental studies are scarce. We aimed at manipulating environmental stress and ageing by exposing colonies of the less-socially complex termite Cryptotermes secundus to temperature regimes that differed in variance. In contrast with expectation, constant temperatures imposed more stress than variable temperatures. Survival of queens and workers as well as queens' fecundity were partly reduced under constant conditions and both castes showed signs of ageing in the transcriptome signature under constant conditions. There was a clear oxidative stress defence signal under constant conditions that was, surprisingly, stronger for workers than queens. We discuss how our results relate to social complexity. We argue that workers that are totipotent to become reproductives, like in C. secundus , should invest more in ‘anti-ageing' mechanisms than sterile workers because the former can still reproduce and have not reached maturity yet. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Ageing and sociality: why, when and how does sociality change ageing patterns?’
... Nester werden so konstruiert, dass Temperatur und Luftfeuchtigkeit reguliert werden können (Greves, 1964;Korb, 2011;Noirot & Darlington, 2000) und ein Gasaustausch mit der Umgebung stattfindet (Turner, 2001). Die Nester niederer Termiten werden oft in Totholz angelegt und bieten so gleichermaßen Schutz und Nahrung. ...
Thesis
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Termites are dominant decomposers in tropical and subtropical ecosystems. Their ecological success is based on an efficient communication system. In the present study the vibratory drumming signals of Macrotermes natalensis are examined and compared with signals of other termite species. The physical properties of the termite nests were studied for the first time. The drumming alarm signal can be transmitted through a positive feedback mechanism through chains of signal reamplifying termites over long distances. In addition the vibratory signal is used in the context of orientation. Experiments with two movable platforms allowing to vibrate the legs of left and right body side with a time delay show that the difference of time-of-arrival is the directional cue used for orientation. This is the first report that time-of-arrival delays of the vibrational signal are used for tropotactic orientation by an insect.
... Another factor that could be as important as sporulation in selecting fungal isolates for termite control is tolerance to high temperatures. Formosan subterranean termites usually maintain their colonies at 30-35°C (Greaves, 1964; Li, 1984), which is above the optimum temperature for conidial germination and growth of most isolates of M. anisopliae and B. bassiana (Milner et al., 1998a). This suggests that most isolates of these two fungal species would not be able to reproduce, spread, and cause disease epizootics in C. formosanus colonies (Fargues et al., 1997; Hywel-Jones and Gillespie, 1990; Milner et al., 1998a). ...
Article
Mode of access: World Wide Web. Title from document title page. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 2002.
... Several behaviors in termites are thought to be responses that enhance survival at cold temperatures. Greaves (1964) and Holdaway and Gay (1948) suggested that aggregation by termites within the nest is an effective means of conserving heat because it reduces the amount of exposed surface area of individual termites. They reported that temperatures within trees or mounds where termites aggregated during the winter were signiÞcantly warmer than the ambient air temperature . ...
Article
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Eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar), workers were exposed to decreasing temperatures and a shift in photoperiod to simulate conditions that are encountered during the fall in eastern Nebraska. Mean water and fat content in termites exposed to a decreasing thermophotoperiod did not differ significantly from controls or laboratory colony termites. Survival was higher for termites subjected to a decreasing thermophotoperiod than for controls. This could be attributed to acclimation to low temperatures or a delayed mortality due to lowered metabolic activity at low temperature. Previously reported data on soil temperatures taken in Lincoln, NE, at a depth of 91.4 cm showed that the temperature rarely went below 0°C. Our results, observations from previous reports of R. flavipes found at depths >100 cm during the winter, and previously determined lower lethal temperatures and supercooling points suggest that successfully overwintering R. flavipes colonies retreat to soil depths where freezing temperatures are not encountered.
... Thus gas exchange occurs through holes all over the surfaces of the mound. Heat is also generated metabolically, and by clustering together (the termites) they keep a stable temperature inside the nest [13]. The architecture of the nest is dynamic and adaptive; the inhabitants modify it for a better performance in accordance to the environmental changes [14] ...
Conference Paper
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The building envelope has to maintain a thermal comfort for the occupants. Current technologies for buildings consider the envelope as a thermal barrier or a shield that has to be insulated to prevent heat loss and allow it to be open to dissipate heat if necessary. More efficient thermoregulation solutions can be found in nature. Organisms can manipulate their body temperature by behavioural or physiological means as an adaptive response to the environmental changes. In this paper we present performance taxonomy of organisms that facilitate thermoregulation in nature, and we discuss their possible application in building envelopes. Moreover, we present an application case of such taxonomy for an evaporative cooling system for building envelopes.
... Stingless bees generally establish their nests within large cavities of living trees (Roubik, 1983;Roubik, 1989;Eltz et al., 2003;Samejima et al., 2004;Sung et al., 2008), which provide considerable insulation against ambient temperature extremes (Greves, 1964). Nests are constructed using a mixture of bees' wax and plant resin (cerumen). ...
Article
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The greatest diversity of stingless bee species is found in warm tropical regions, where brood thermoregulation is unnecessary for survival. Although Austroplebeia australis (Friese) naturally occurs in northern regions of Australia, some populations experience extreme temperature ranges, including sub-zero temperatures. In this study, the temperature was monitored in A. australis colonies’ brood chamber (n = 6) and the hive cavity (n = 3), over a 12-month period. The A. australis colonies demonstrated some degree of thermoconformity, i.e. brood temperature although higher correlated with cavity temperature, and were able to warm the brood chamber throughout the year. Brood production continued throughout the cold season and developing offspring survived and emerged, even after exposure to very low (-0.4 �C) and high (37.6 �C) temperatures. Austroplebeia australis, thus, demonstrated a remarkable ability to survive temperature extremes, which has not been seen in other stingless bee species.
... The temperature within C. curvignathus's endoecie was similar to that in the nest of C. acinaciformis which was maintained at 33-38°C as reported by Greaves (1964). High temperature was expected in the endoecie, since it was the core of the nest where termite activities was at its peak. ...
Article
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The oil palm industry of Malaysia has expanded into peat area in Sarawak. Problem statement: The subterranean termite Coptotermes curvignathus was a serious pest of oil palm on peat. Control of this termite has resorted to heavy usage of chemicals which was deemed uneconomical and hostile to the environment. Baiting system has inconsistent success due to the limited knowledge of the behavior of the pest. Approach: This study was to investigate damage and nesting characteristic of the pest. Infested palm in the peat area was dissected using a chainsaw and observation was made on the endoecie and damage. Microclimate inside the palm was recorded using a data logger and acid insoluble lignin from 3 different infested palms was determined. Results: Dissection of infested palm revealed that termite generally attacked the palm from the spear in immature palm or basal region in mature palm due to the energy requirement and level of water table. Spear region infestation was possible because of the moist environment provided by the proximity of the fronds and leaf sheaths. The high lignin content (42-45%) in the thin laminae indicated the concentration of lignin or incorporation of peat in nest construction. Wood stump residues remained in the plantation was one of the main reasons of termite infestation. The stability and protection of the wood stump encouraged termite breeding. A C. curvignathus queen was discovered in the endoecie under the wood stump and was seen mobile. Conclusion: The pest was generally available in area where wood stumps and moisture were available. Manipulation of water table for certain period after spraying of chemical may help reduce infestation by the termite.
... There is abundant evidence that termites in general decrease their tunnelling and food retrieval activities with decreasing temperature [25][26][27][28] and may also reduce their moulting frequency [6,29,30] making them less susceptible to CSI type baits under cold conditions. For C. lacteus and C. acinaciformis there is a documented difference in foraging activity between summer and winter with aggregation in the nest occurring in winter [31][32][33]. This would suggest that baiting for termites during colder periods, particularly in temperate climates may not be as effective as during warmer periods [26]. ...
Article
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The efficacy of bistrifluron termite bait was evaluated using in-ground bait stations placed around Coptotermes lacteus mounds in south-eastern Australia during late summer and autumn (late February to late May 2012). Four in-ground bait stations containing timber billets were placed around each of twenty mounds. Once sufficient numbers of in-ground stations were infested by termites, mounds were assigned to one of four groups (one, two, three or four 120 g bait canisters or 120 to 480 g bait in total per mound) and bait canisters installed. One mound, nominally assigned treatment with two canisters ultimately had no termite interception in any of the four in-ground stations and not treated. Eighteen of the remaining 19 colonies were eliminated by 12 weeks after bait placement, irrespective of bait quantity removed (range 43 to 480 g). Measures of colony decline-mound repair capability and internal core temperature-did not accurately reflect the colony decline, as untreated colonies showed a similar pattern of decline in both repair capability and internal mound core temperature. However, during the ensuing spring-summer period, capacity to repair the mound was restored in untreated colonies and the internal core temperature profile was similar to the previous spring-summer period which indicated that these untreated colonies remained healthy.
Article
Optimal temperature of feeding activity of different termite species The wood consumption of termite groups was recorded at constant temperature intervals of 2° C and the condition of the groups was determined after certain test periods, mostly 4, 8, 12 und 16 weeks. The termite species investigated were of the Termitidae Nasutitermes nigriceps (Haldeman), Nasutitermes arborum (Smeathman), Microcerotermes crassus Sny-der and Microcerotermes championi Snyder, the Rhinotermitidae Prorhinotermes simplex (Hagen), Coptotermes amanii (Sjöstedt), Coptotermes formosanus (Shiraki), Coptotermes niger Snyder, Reticulitermes speratus (Kolbe) with the geographical races speratus, lepto-labralis and kyushuensis Morimoto, Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks), Reticulitermes flavi-pes (Kollar) with groups of different locations, Reticulitermes lucifuges (Rossi) with groups from Portugal, Spain, France (Corsica), Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece and furthermore Reticulitermes santonensis De Feytaud, the Termopsidae Zootermopsis angusticollis (Hagen) and Zootermopsis nevadensis (Hagen), the Kalotermitidae Neotermes castaneus (Burmeister), Neotermes jouteli (Banks) and Incisitermes tabogae (Snyder) and Mastoter-mitidae Mastotermes darwiniensis Froggatt. The optimal temperature for wood consumption of these and other termite species investigated earlier in the same way, in total 25, was found to be between about 33° C and about 22° C. Differences in the reaction to temperatures do not only exist between species of different climatic regions but also between species of the same area of distribution. Geographical races of the same species may differ in their reaction to temperatures or may react equally. The culturing temperature maintained before the test may influence the temperature at which the highest rate of wood consumption is observed. During long periods the optimal temperature may remain constant, may decrease or may increase slightly. For survival and colony development lower temperatures may be more favourable than for wood consumption. Differences in the optimal temperature were stated not only with termites from different climatic regions, but also with species of the same area and the same genus. The knowledge of the optimal temperature for wood consumption is useful for culturing and testing termites in the laboratory. Bei konstanten Temperaturstufen im Abstand von je 2° C wurde der Holzfraß von Termitengruppen nach mehreren Versuchszeiten (meist 4, 8, 12 und 16 Wochen) sowie der Zustand der Gruppen nach Versuchsende bestimmt. Die verwendeten Termiten-Arten waren von Termitidae Nasutitermes nigriceps (Haldeman), Nasutitermes arborum (Smeath-man), Microcerotermes crassus Snyder und Microcerotermes championi Snyder, von Rhi-notermitidae Prorhinotermes simplex (Hagen), Coptotermes amanii (Sjöstedt), Coptoter-mes formosanus (Shiraki), Coptotermes niger Snyder, Reticulitermes speratus (Kolbe) mit den geographischen Rassen speratus, leptolabralis und kyushuensis Morimoto, Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks), Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) mit Tieren verschiedener Her-künfte, Reticulitermes lucifugus (Rossi) mit Tieren aus Portugal, Spanien, Frankreich (Korsika), Italien Jugoslawien und Griechenland sowie Reticulitermes santonensis De Fey-taud, von Termopsidae Zootermopsis angusticollis (Hagen) und Zootermopsis nevadensis (Hagen), von Kalotermitidae Neotermes castaneus (Burmeister), Neotermes jouteli (Banks) und Incisitermes tabogae (Snyder) und von Mastotermitidae Mastotermes darwiniensis Froggatt. Die Optimaltemperatur für den Holzfraß dieser und in entsprechender Weise früher untersuchter, insgesamt 25 Termiten-Arten liegen zwischen rd. 33° C und rd. 22° C. Unterschiede im Verhalten gegenüber der Temperatur bestehen nicht nur zwischen Arten aus verschiedenen Klimabereichen, sondern auch zwischen Arten gleichen Verbreitungs-gebiets. Geographische Rassen einer Art können sich in ihrem Verhalten gegenüber der Temperatur unterscheiden oder auch gleich sein. Die vorangehende Zuchttemperatur kann die Höhe der Temperatur, bei der am meisten gefressen wird, beeinflussen. Während länge-rer Versuchszeiten kann die Optimal-Temperatur gleich bleiben oder niedriger oder etwas höher werden. Für Überleben und Kolonieentwicklung können niedrigere Temperaturen günstiger sein als für die Fraßaktivität. Unterschiede in der Optimal-Temperatur treten nicht nur bei Termiten aus verschiedenen Klimagebieten, sondern auch bei Arten gleicher Herkunft und der gleichen Gattung auf. Die Kenntnis der optimalen Temperatur für den Holzfraß ist für Zucht und Prüfungen im Laboratorium nützlich.
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Chapter
THE nests of ants, termites, and social bees and wasps serve as incubators for raising the immatures and as refuges from enemies and temperature extremes. The importance of these thermal refuges, where the microclimate is often rigidly controlled, cannot be overemphasized in any study of the life strategies of social insects. Indeed, most treatises on the social life of insects discuss numerous facets of this fascinating thermoregulatory behavior at length. Heat generation of honeybee colonies has been well known for at least 250 years (Réaumur, 1742), and an overall review of thermoregulation by insect societies is available (Seeley and Heinrich, 1981). Work on ants has recently been updated (Hölldobler and Wilson, 1990). Given that much information on social thermoregulation is available elsewhere, I here refrain from covering the topic in detail and attempt only a summary of the main features and a limited critique of some controversial viewpoints.
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