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The Nest of Apicotermes Trägårdhi (Isoptera) New Evidence On the Evolution of Nest-Building

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[Apicotermes trägårdhi is the most primitive known species of the genus. Its nests lack wall perforations, shagreen network, ramps, and pillars, and the internal arrangement is cellular (Fig. 1, 2). Colonies probably consist of several interconnected nests. A definite spiral tendency was noted in the interior arrangement of some nests. It is suggested that the term "shagreen" be restricted to the layer of cemented sand grains on the outside of the nests and that another term (e.g. punctated plaster) be used for the pitted layer of fecal mortar lining the nest interiors. The hypothetical phylogeny of Apicotermes is revised to include A. trägårdhi and a new species, A rimulifex (Fig. 3). Another possible method of the origin of the unique circular galleries of A. arquieri is suggested. The evidence suggesting an origin of Apicotermes in the rainforest of central Africa (between about 10° N. and 10° S.) in the late Oligocene or early Miocene is discussed. It is possible that the perforation systems of the nests evolved in response to a rainforest habitat and that the savanna habitat of some species has been acquired secondarily after a shrinkage of the rainforest from a former, more extensive range. The evolution of the more important nest characteristics from the ancestors of the genus is outlined chronologically., Apicotermes trägårdhi is the most primitive known species of the genus. Its nests lack wall perforations, shagreen network, ramps, and pillars, and the internal arrangement is cellular (Fig. 1, 2). Colonies probably consist of several interconnected nests. A definite spiral tendency was noted in the interior arrangement of some nests. It is suggested that the term "shagreen" be restricted to the layer of cemented sand grains on the outside of the nests and that another term (e.g. punctated plaster) be used for the pitted layer of fecal mortar lining the nest interiors. The hypothetical phylogeny of Apicotermes is revised to include A. trägårdhi and a new species, A rimulifex (Fig. 3). Another possible method of the origin of the unique circular galleries of A. arquieri is suggested. The evidence suggesting an origin of Apicotermes in the rainforest of central Africa (between about 10° N. and 10° S.) in the late Oligocene or early Miocene is discussed. It is possible that the perforation systems of the nests evolved in response to a rainforest habitat and that the savanna habitat of some species has been acquired secondarily after a shrinkage of the rainforest from a former, more extensive range. The evolution of the more important nest characteristics from the ancestors of the genus is outlined chronologically.]

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853957x00083
1958-01-01
2015-08-02

Affiliations: 1: Illinois State Normal University, Normal

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