Antipredator Behavior Produced by Heterosexual and Homosexual Tandem Running in the Termite Reticulitermes chinensis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)


  • Ganghua Li Huazhong Agricultural University
  • Xiaofen Zou Huazhong Agricultural University
  • Chaoliang Lei Huazhong Agricultural University
  • Qiuying Huang Huazhong Agricultural University



Predation risk, tandem running, Reticulitermes chinensis, dilution effect, sexual selection


Heterosexual and homosexual tandem running can be observed together in the alate pairings in some species of termites. This study examined the effect of heterosexual and homosexual tandem running in the termite Reticulitermes chinensis on the predation risk by a predatory ant, Leptogenys kitteli. Results showed that both heterosexual and homosexual tandem running reduced the predation risk of participants. When a male-male tandem encountered a female, the back male had a significant advantage over the front male in winning a female. Moreover, the back males were significantly heavier than the front males. These results indicated that the predation risk of dealates could be decreased by tandem running through the dilution effect. Furthermore, these data suggest that male-male tandem running could induce selection pressure in favor of vigorous males and may play an essential role in indirect sexual selection.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Qiuying Huang, Huazhong Agricultural University

PhD and Associate professor in Department of Entomology


Austin, J.W., A.L. Szalanski & B.J.Cabrera 2004. Phylogenetic analysis of the subterranean termite family Rhinotermitidae (Isoptera) by using the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase II gene. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 97: 548-555. doi: 10.1603/0013-8746(2004)097[0548:PAOTST]2.0.CO;2)

Bordereau, C., E. Cancello, E. Sémon, A. Courrent & B. Quennedey 2002. Sex pheromone identified after solid phase microextraction from tergal glands of female alates in Cornitermes bequaerti (Isoptera, Nasutitermitinae). Insect. Soc. 49: 209-215. doi: 10.1007/s00040-002-8303-1)

Bordereau, C. & J.M. Pasteels 2011. Pheromones and chemical ecology of dispersal and foraging in termites. In: Bignell D.E., Roisin Y. & N. Lo (eds.), Biology of Termites: A Modern Synthesis. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, pp 279-320. doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-3977-4_11)

Deligne, J. 1981. The enemy and defense mechanism of termites. Social insects 2: 1-76.

Hall, S.R., C.R. Becker, J.L. Simonis, M.A. Duffy, A.J. Tessier & C.E. Cáceres 2009. Friendly competition: evidence for a dilution effect among competitors in a planktonic host-parasite system. Ecology 90: 791-801. doi: 10.1890/08-0838.1

Hamilton, W.D. 1971. Geometry for the selfish herd. J. Theor. Biol. 31: 295-311. doi: 10.1016/0022-5193(71)90189-5

Hanus, R., A. Luxová, J. Šobotník, B. Kalinovà, P. Jiroš, J. Křeček, T. Bourguignon & C. Bordereau 2009. Sexual communication in the termite Prorhinotermes simplex (Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae) mediated by a pheromone from female tergal glands. Insect. Soc. 56: 111-118. doi: 10.1007/s00040-009-0005-5

Hartke, T. & B. Baer 2011. The mating biology of termites: a comparative review. Anim. Behav. 82: 927-936. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.07.022

Hayashi, Y., O. Kitade & J.-I. Kojima 2003. Parthenogenetic reproduction in neotenics of the subterranean termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Entomol. Sci. 6: 253-257. doi: 10.1046/j.1343-8786.2003.00030.x

Huang, Q.Y., W.P. Wang, R.Y. Mo & C.L. Lei 2008. Studies on feeding and trophallaxis in the subterranean termite Odontotermes formosanus using rubidium chloride. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 129: 210-215. doi: /10.1111/j.1570-7458.2008.00764.x

Jeon, W. & S.H. Lee 2011. Simulation study of territory size distributions in subterranean termites. J. Theor. Biol. 279: 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2011.03.016

Kenne, M., B. Schatz, J.L. Durand & A. Dejean 2000. Hunting strategy of a generalist ant species proposed as a biological control agent against termites. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 94: 31-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1570-7458.2000.00601.x

Lee, S.H., P. Bardunias & N.Y. Su 2006. Food encounter rates of simulated termite tunnels with variable food size/distribution pattern and tunnel branch length. J. Theor. Biol. 243: 493-500. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2006.07.026

Li ,W.Z., Y.Y. Tong, Q. Xiong & Q.Y. Huang, 2010. Efficacy of three kinds of baits against the subterranean termite Reticulitermes chinensis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in rural houses in China. Sociobiology 56: 209-222.

Marcoux, M. 2011. Narwhal communication and grouping behaviour: a case study in social cetacean research and monitoring. McGill University.

Matsuura, K., M. Fujimoto & K. Goka 2004. Sexual and asexual colony foundation and the mechanism of facultative parthenogenesis in the termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae). Insectes Soc. 51: 325-332. doi: 10.1007/s00040-004-0746-0)

Matsuura, K., M. Fujimoto, K. Goka & T. Nishida 2002. Cooperative colony foundation by termite female pairs: altruism for survivorship in incipient colonies. Anim. Behav. 64: 167-173. doi: 10.1006/anbe.2002.3062

Matsuura, K. & N. Kobayashi 2007. Size, hatching rate, and hatching period of sexually and asexually produced eggs in the facultatively parthenogenetic termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera : Rhinotermitidae). Appl. Entomol. Zool. 42: 241-246. doi: 10.1303/aez.2007.241

Matsuura, K., E. Kuno & T. Nishida 2002. Homosexual tandem running as selfish herd in Reticulitermes speratus: Novel antipredatory behavior in termite. J. Theor. Biol. 214: 63-70. doi: 10.1006/jtbi.2001.2447

Matsuura, K. & T. Nishida 2001. Comparison of colony foundation success between sexual pairs and female asexual units in the termite Reticulitermes speratus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Popul. Ecol. 43: 119-124. doi: 10.1007/PL00012022

Peppuy, A., A. Robert & C. Bordereau 2004. Species-specific sex pheromones secreted from new sexual glands in two sympatric fungus-growing termites from northern Vietnam, Macrotermes annandalei and M. barneyi. Insect. Soc. 51: 91-98. doi: 10.1007/s00040-003-0718-9

Rodgers, G.M., J.R. Ward, B. Askwith & L.J. Morrell 2011. Balancing the dilution and oddity effects: decisions depend on body size. PloS One 6: e14819. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014819

Roonwal, M.L. 1975. Sex ratio and sexual dimorphism in termites. J. Sci. Ind. Res. India. 34: 402-416.

Shellman-Reeve, J.S. 1990. Dynamics of biparental care in the dampwood termite, Zootermopsis nevadensis (Hagen): response to nitrogen availability. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 26: 389-397. doi: 10.1007/BF00170895

Wei, J.Q., J.C. Mo, X.J. Wang & W.G. Mao 2007. Biology and ecology of Reticulitermes chinensis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in China. Sociobiology 50: 553-555.




How to Cite

Li, G., Zou, X., Lei, C., & Huang, Q. (2013). Antipredator Behavior Produced by Heterosexual and Homosexual Tandem Running in the Termite Reticulitermes chinensis (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology, 60(2), 198–203.



Research Article - Termites