On the Chemical Disguise of a Physogastric Termitophilous Rove Beetle

Cassiano Sousa Rosa, Paulo Fellipe Cristaldo, Daniela Faria Florencio, Alessandra Marins, Eraldo R Lima, Og DeSouza


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.


cohabitation; Constrictotermes cyphergaster; Corotoca melantho; symbiosis

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v65i1.1942


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