Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Termites Eavesdrop On Competitors To Survive

Date:
September 7, 2009
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
The drywood termite, Cryptotermes secundus, eavesdrops on its more aggressive subterranean competitor, Coptotermes acinaciformis, to avoid contact with it, according to scientists in Australia.

Cryptotermes secundus termites form small colonies and have few workers. They can ‘eavesdrop’ on their more aggressive relatives Coptotermes acinaciformis.
Credit: Photo by Patrick Gleeson

The drywood termite, Cryptotermes secundus, eavesdrops on its more aggressive subterranean competitor, Coptotermes acinaciformis, to avoid contact with it, according to scientists from CSIRO Entomology and the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Both species eat sound dry wood and can co-exist in the same tree but, while drywood termite colonies contain only about 200 individuals and are confined to one tree, colonies of Coptotermes – Australia’s dominant wood-eating termite – contain around a million individuals, including thousands of aggressive soldiers, and can forage on up to 20 trees simultaneously.

“We already knew that chewing termites generate vibrations which they use to determine wood size and quality, so it seemed possible that one species could detect another using these vibrations,” CSIRO Entomology’s Dr Theo Evans said.

“We found that Cryptotermes could use vibration signals to distinguish between their own and Coptotermes individuals. They would even respond to recorded signals.

“This is the first time the ability to identify a different species using only their vibration signals has been identified in termites.

“Because vibration signals move rapidly through wood and can be detected from a distance, the vulnerable species have an eavesdropping advantage as they can detect their aggressive relatives without having to come into contact with them.”

Dr Evans said the advantage to Cryptotermes in avoiding Coptotermes was made very clear in one trial where the Coptotermes tunnelled through a 20mm block of wood and killed all the Cryptotermes.

Cryptotermes and the ‘tree piping’ Coptotermes are heartwood eaters and are among the few termites groups that attack buildings. Eighty-five percent of Australian trees are infested with Coptotermes.

Coptotermes enter trees through their roots and it is their ‘tree piping’ that produces the raw material for the didgeridoo.

This research – conducted in collaboration with Professor Joseph Lai at UNSW@ADFA and with the support of the Australian Research Council – was recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Termites Eavesdrop On Competitors To Survive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831131359.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2009, September 7). Termites Eavesdrop On Competitors To Survive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831131359.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Termites Eavesdrop On Competitors To Survive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090831131359.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins