Talk by Dr. Yves Roisin, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Seminar Title: Evolution of Sociality and Reproductive Strategies in Termites
Abstract: Termites are social cockroaches. They live in familial units, made eusocial by the presence of a caste of sterile soldiers. Apart from soldiers, the most basic termite colonies comprise one reproductive pair and immatures of various ages, living within a piece of wood on which they feed. These immatures are totipotent: all can potentially proceed to the winged stage and fly away to found new colonies. However, most termites nowadays display a more complex social organisation, including a non-reproductive worker caste. Extant termite societies suggest several pathways by which totipotent immatures may have evolved towards a caste of permanent, sterile workers, thereby crossing the eusociality threshold a second time. I will present and discuss the behavioural and developmental options open to termite immatures, to suggest that alloparental behaviour has been selected for its exceptionally high benefit:cost ratio in termite ancestors. The development of a specialized worker caste, followed by the loss of symbiotic flagellates, has allowed a remarkable diversification of feeding niches in the Termitidae. In addition, present-day termites display a broad diversity of reproductive strategies and life histories. I will emphasize a few examples of contrasting patterns, from Termitidae species co-occurring in French Guiana rainforests.
Date: Friday, 2nd of November, 2018
Time: 9:30AM – 10:30AM
Venue: Seminar room C700, Lab 3
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