Journal Article Emergence of intercolonial variation in termite shelter tube patterns and prediction of its underlying mechanism

Mizumoto, Nobuaki  ,  Kobayashi, Kazuya  ,  Matsuura, Kenji

2 ( 11 ) 2015-11-04 , The Royal Society
シロアリの多様な巣の構造はいかにして生じるか? -集団による構造物形成の種内変異を引き起こすメカニズムの提示-. 京都大学プレスリリース. 2015-11-05.
Building behaviours occur in various organisms from bacteria to humans. Social insects build various structures such as large nests and underground galleries, achieved by self-organization. Structures built by social insects have recently been demonstrated to vary widely in size and shape within a species, even under the same environmental conditions. However, little is known about how intraspecific variation in structures emerges from collective behaviours. Here we show that the colony variation of structures can be generated by simply changing two behavioural parameters of group members, even with the same building algorithm. Our laboratory experiment of termite shelter tube construction demonstrated clear intercolonial variation, and a two-dimensional lattice model showed that it can be attributed to the extent of positive feedback and the number of individuals engaged in building. This study contributes to explaining the great diversity of structures emerging from collective building in social insects.

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