Causes and Consequences of spatial patterning in fungus-growing termites of the genus Odontotermes

Aggressive behavior among different termite colonies has long been considered an important mechanism in delineating and maintaining colony territories. However, very little empirical evidence exists regarding inter-colony behavior. Here is a video I made of termites introduced in a controlled arena setting. Individuals from the same colony separated for 24 or 48 hours don't fight, while termites from different colonies always fight. I am interested in how competition for resources and agonistic behavior contribute to the regular spacing of termite mounds.

False color imagery showing the regular spatial pattern of termite mounds (small red spots) at Mpala Research Centre in Kenya.

(C) Jessica A. Castillo Vardaro 2019

Cover art by Jenna Curtis