Did you Know?
  • The Lappet-faced Vulture, a regular winter visitor to the DDCR, has a wingspan of 2.5-3 metres (8-10 feet)

Identifying the colony role of late instar larvae in Psammotermes hybostoma: A potentially new sterile worker caste?

Project Summary

Termites, particularly the lower termites, have extraordinary developmental plasticity which has allowed them to adapt to varied and even harsh environments. Psammotermes hybostoma exemplifies this due to their capacity to survive in ecosystems with net zero productivity, such as arid deserts within the UAE.

This species also has a unique developmental pathway leading to older larvae which have an unknown function but are seemingly five times the size of the other individuals within the colony. It has been hypothesized that these individuals may produce metabolic water to help hydrate the colony, therefore could potentially be a new sterile worker caste. By collecting this species from the wild and undergoing behavioral experiments in the lab, the true nature of these individuals can be discovered.

Research Objectives

  • Locate and collect colonies of the termite species.

Methodology

I will find the location of workers outside the nest which will help identify the location of the nest. Once the nest is found, using a shovel, I will collect the whole colony into a safe container. If external workers are not easily identifiable, bait traps can be used to lure out the workers, helping with locating the nest sites.

Expected Outcomes

  • I will need to locate the nest of this termite species and then collect the whole colony for transportation back to the UK.