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Colony Dynamics of the Formosan Subterranean Termite in a Frequently Disturbed Urban Landscape

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Abstract:

The success of evaluating areawide control of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), in urban landscapes hinges on detailed understanding of colony movement and plasticity of the breeding system. Most previous studies of colony affiliation and breeding systems of C. formosanus have been conducted in relatively undisturbed park-like areas. However, disturbance in the form of landscaping, construction, and nearby treatment may impact termite colony dynamics in urban habitats. Therefore, we used microsatellite genotyping to identify the number of colonies, assess colony movement, and investigate the breeding structure of colonies surrounding the Supreme Court Building in New Orleans, LA. During 4 yr, 18 distinct colonies were identified in the study area. In contrast to earlier studies in park-like areas, which indicated stable foraging areas, colonies in this study moved frequently into and out of inground stations. Five colonies were simple families; two of these colonies were headed by inbred nestmate pairs, and three of these colonies were headed by outbred unrelated pairs. Thirteen colonies were extended families headed by fewer than five neotenic reproductives. During the study, the predominant breeding system shifted; simple family colonies either moved or were eliminated, and they were replaced with new extended family colonies. In one case, a generation turnover within a colony from simple to extended family was observed.
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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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