Caste-specific N and C isotope ratios in fungus-growing termites with special reference to uric acid preservation and their nutritional interpretation

I. Tayasu, Fujio Hyodo, T. Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

1. Nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios and uric acid concentrations in fungus-growing termites (Isoptera: Termitidae: Macrotermitinae), sampled in Cameroon and Thailand, were determined in order to compare castes that are known to differ in behaviour and feeding habits. 2. Nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) were either not significantly changed or lower in workers compared with the diet (the fungus combs), whereas carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) were higher in worker termites than in the fungus combs. 3. In old workers, δ15N values were unexpectedly low and correlated negatively with whole-body uric acid concentrations. This indicates that older workers retain uric acid, which has a low δ15N value, to conserve nitrogen within the colony and, furthermore, that older colony members may ultimately be consumed by younger conspecifics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-361
Number of pages7
JournalEcological Entomology
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

caste
termite
uric acid
Isoptera
isotopes
combs (social insects)
carbon isotope ratio
fungus
nitrogen isotope
isotope
fungi
acid
nitrogen
Termitidae
carbon
Cameroon
Thailand
diet

Keywords

  • C
  • N
  • Fungus grower
  • Isoptera
  • Macrotermitinae
  • Nitrogen dynamics
  • Polyethism
  • Termitidae
  • Trophic enrichment
  • Uric acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Ecology

Cite this

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abstract = "1. Nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios and uric acid concentrations in fungus-growing termites (Isoptera: Termitidae: Macrotermitinae), sampled in Cameroon and Thailand, were determined in order to compare castes that are known to differ in behaviour and feeding habits. 2. Nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) were either not significantly changed or lower in workers compared with the diet (the fungus combs), whereas carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) were higher in worker termites than in the fungus combs. 3. In old workers, δ15N values were unexpectedly low and correlated negatively with whole-body uric acid concentrations. This indicates that older workers retain uric acid, which has a low δ15N value, to conserve nitrogen within the colony and, furthermore, that older colony members may ultimately be consumed by younger conspecifics.",
keywords = "C, N, Fungus grower, Isoptera, Macrotermitinae, Nitrogen dynamics, Polyethism, Termitidae, Trophic enrichment, Uric acid",
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AU - Tayasu, I.

AU - Hyodo, Fujio

AU - Abe, T.

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N2 - 1. Nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios and uric acid concentrations in fungus-growing termites (Isoptera: Termitidae: Macrotermitinae), sampled in Cameroon and Thailand, were determined in order to compare castes that are known to differ in behaviour and feeding habits. 2. Nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) were either not significantly changed or lower in workers compared with the diet (the fungus combs), whereas carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) were higher in worker termites than in the fungus combs. 3. In old workers, δ15N values were unexpectedly low and correlated negatively with whole-body uric acid concentrations. This indicates that older workers retain uric acid, which has a low δ15N value, to conserve nitrogen within the colony and, furthermore, that older colony members may ultimately be consumed by younger conspecifics.

AB - 1. Nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios and uric acid concentrations in fungus-growing termites (Isoptera: Termitidae: Macrotermitinae), sampled in Cameroon and Thailand, were determined in order to compare castes that are known to differ in behaviour and feeding habits. 2. Nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15N) were either not significantly changed or lower in workers compared with the diet (the fungus combs), whereas carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) were higher in worker termites than in the fungus combs. 3. In old workers, δ15N values were unexpectedly low and correlated negatively with whole-body uric acid concentrations. This indicates that older workers retain uric acid, which has a low δ15N value, to conserve nitrogen within the colony and, furthermore, that older colony members may ultimately be consumed by younger conspecifics.

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