How do termite inquilines manage to cohabit termitaria along with the termite builder species? With this in mind, we analysed one of the several strategies that inquilines could use to circumvent conflicts with their hosts, namely, the use of distinct diets. We inspected overlapping patterns for the diets of several cohabiting Neotropical termite species, as inferred from carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures for termite individuals. Cohabitant communities from distinct termitaria presented overlapping diet spaces, indicating that they exploited similar diets at the regional scale. When such communities were split into their components, full diet segregation could be observed between builders and inquilines, at regional (environment-wide) and local (termitarium) scales. Additionally, diet segregation among inquilines themselves was also observed in the vast majority of inspected termitaria. Inquiline species distribution among termitaria was not random. Environmental-wide diet similarity, coupled with local diet segregation and deterministic inquiline distribution, could denounce interactions for feeding resources. However, inquilines and builders not sharing the same termitarium, and thus not subject to potential conflicts, still exhibited distinct diets. Moreover, the areas of the builder’s diet space and that of its inquilines did not correlate negatively. Accordingly, the diet areas of builders which hosted inquilines were in average as large as the areas of builders hosting no inquilines. Such results indicate the possibility that dietary partitioning by these cohabiting termites was not majorly driven by current interactive constraints. Rather, it seems to be a result of traits previously fixed in the evolutionary past of cohabitants.
We evaluated the relation of cricket species richness and composition with forest regeneration time, evaluating canopy and litter depth as environmental drivers. Effects of forest patch area, nearest distance to the 300-year patch, cricket abundance, sampling sufficiency, and nestedness were also evaluated. We collected 1174 individuals (five families, 19 species). Species richness increased asymptotically with regeneration time and linearly with canopy cover and litter depth. Canopy cover increased linearly, while litter depth increased asymptotically. Richness was not affected by patch area and nearest distance to the 300-year patch. Richness increased with cricket abundance, and this explanation could not be distinguished from regeneration time, evidencing collinearity of these two explanatory variables. Rarefaction curve slopes increased with regeneration time. Species composition differed among patches, with no nested pattern. We suggest that regeneration and consequent increases in canopy and litter promote recovery of cricket biodiversity, abundance, and changes in species composition. We conclude that the recovery of cricket diversity involves an increase along the spatial scale of complementarity, together with a change in species composition.
Inter-specific symbiotic links are often reinforced by morphological, physiological, or behavioural trait modification undergone by the associated species. In some cases, such as in physogastric termitophile staphylinids, such modifications do facilitate the social interaction. Here we inspect chemical traits of the physogastric staphylinid Corotoca melantho (Insecta: Coleoptera) and its termite host Constrictotermes cyphergaster (Insecta: Blattodea: Isoptera), aiming to verify whether staphylinids resemble their host. First, we compared CHC profiles of hosts and guests within and among termitaria, to gather evidence on the origin of such profiles in guests. Then, we examined nitrogen and carbon isotopic signatures of these cohabitants to inspect whether chemical disguise is achieved by predation of host workers by staphylinids. Beetles presented CHC more similar to the CHC of their cohabiting termites than to (i) their conspecifics and (ii) termites from another nest, thereby favouring the hypothesis on CHC acquisition by guests. Isotopic signatures revealed that such similarities could not be majorly determined by share nutrition between these cohabitants. In general, our results evidenced that chemical disguise in termitophiles may function as a strategy for social integration in morphological mimics.
We provide the first report of larvae of Hoplopyga brasiliensis (Gory and Percheron) and H. singuhris (Gory and Percheron) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Cetoniinae) in nests of Cornitermes cumulans (Kollar) (Isoptera: Termitidae: Syntermitinae) and Dwersitermes diversimiles (Silvestri) (Isoptera: Termitidae: Nasutitermitinae), respectively. We also provide new information on the life cycle of H. brasiliensis and the feeding behavior of adults of H. singularis. In total, 44 larvae of H. brasiliensis were found in a single nest of C. cumulans in apastureland in Coimbra, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Larvae of H. singularis were found under nests of D. diversimites at two urban parks in the state of Parana, Brazil. ≈15 larvae of H. singulis in different stages of development and some opened pupal cells were found in some nests of D. diversimiles. We increase the number of known termitophilous Hoplopyga species to three and discuss such relationships in light of published data and new information provided here.
Structural and functional traits of organisms are known to be related to the size of individuals and to the size of their colonies when they belong to one. Among such traits, propensity to inquilinism in termites is known to relate positively to colony size. Larger termitaria hold larger diversity of facultative inquilines than smaller nests, whereas obligate inquilines seem unable to settle in nests smaller than a threshold volume. Respective underlying mechanisms, however, remain hypothetical. Here we test one of such hypotheses, namely, that nest defence correlates negatively to nest volume in Constrictotermes cyphergaster termites (Termitidae: Nasutitermitinae). As a surrogate to defence, we used ‘patrolling rate’, i.e., the number of termite individuals attending per unit time an experimentally damaged spot on the outer wall of their termitaria. We found that patrolling rate decayed allometrically with increasing nest size. Conspicuously higher patrolling rates occurred in smaller nests, while conspicuously lower rates occurred in larger nests presenting volumes in the vicinity of the threshold value for the establishment of inquilinism. This could be proven adaptive for the host and guest. At younger nest age, host colonies are smaller and presumably more vulnerable and unstable. Enhanced defence rates may, hence, prevent eventual risks to hosts from inquilinism at the same time that it prevents inquilines to settle in a still unstable nest. Conversely, when colonies grow and maturate enough to stand threats, they would invest in priorities other than active defence, opening an opportunity for inquilines to settle in nests which are more suitable or less risky. Under this two-fold process, cohabitation between host and inquiline could readily stabilize.
Stable isotope analysis (SIA) is an important tool for investigation of animal dietary habits for determination of feeding niche. Ideally, fresh samples should be used for isotopic analysis, but logistics frequently demands preservation of organisms for analysis at a later time. The goal of this study was to establish the best methodology for preserving forest litter-dwelling crickets for later SIA analysis without altering results. We collected two cricket species, Phoremia sp. and Mellopsis doucasae, from which we prepared 70 samples per species, divided among seven treatments: (i) freshly processed (control); preserved in fuel ethanol for (ii) 15 and (iii) 60 days; preserved in commercial ethanol for (iv) 15 and (v) 60 days; fresh material frozen for (vi) 15 and (vii) 60 days. After oven drying, samples were analyzed for δ
13C values, N(%), C(%) and C/N atomic values using continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry. All preservation methods tested, significantly impacted δ
13C and δ
15N and C/N atomic values. Chemical preservatives caused δ
13C enrichment as great as 1.5‰, and δ
15N enrichment as great as 0.9‰; the one exception was M. doucasae stored in ethanol for 15 days, which had δ
15N depletion up to 1.8‰. Freezing depleted δ
13C and δ
15N by up to 0.7 and 2.2‰, respectively. C/N atomic values decreased when stored in ethanol, and increased when frozen for 60 days for both cricket species. Our results indicate that all preservation methods tested in this study altered at least one of the tested isotope values when compared to fresh material (controls). We conclude that only freshly processed material provides adequate SIA results for litter-dwelling crickets.
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