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1.  Chemical Discrimination and Aggressiveness via Cuticular Hydrocarbons in a Supercolony-Forming Ant, Formica yessensis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46840.
Territorial boundaries between conspecific social insect colonies are maintained through nestmate recognition systems. However, in supercolony-forming ants, which have developed an extraordinary social organization style known as unicoloniality, a single supercolony extends across large geographic distance. The underlying mechanism is considered to involve less frequent occurrence of intraspecific aggressive behaviors, while maintaining interspecific competition. Thus, we examined whether the supercolony-forming species, Formica yessensis has a nestmate recognition system similar to that of the multicolonial species, Camponotus japonicus with respect to the cuticular hydrocarbon-sensitive sensillum (CHC sensillum), which responds only to non-nestmate CHCs. We further investigated whether the sensory system reflects on the apparent reduced aggression between non-nestmates typical to unicolonial species.
Methodology/Principal Findings
F. yessensis constructs supercolonies comprising numerous nests and constitutes the largest supercolonies in Japan. We compared the within-colony or between-colonies’ (1) similarity in CHC profiles, the nestmate recognition cues, (2) levels of the CHC sensillar response, (3) levels of aggression between workers, as correlated with geographic distances between nests, and (4) their genetic relatedness. Workers from nests within the supercolony revealed a greater similarity of CHC profiles compared to workers from colonies outside it. Total response of the active CHC sensilla stimulated with conspecific alien CHCs did not increase as much as in case of C. japonicus, suggesting that discrimination of conspecific workers at the peripheral system is limited. It was particularly limited among workers within a supercolony, but was fully expressed for allospecific workers.
We demonstrate that chemical discrimination between nestmates and non-nestmates in F. yessensis was not clear cut, probably because this species has only subtle intraspecific differences in the CHC pattern that typify within a supercolony. Such an incomplete chemical discrimination via the CHC sensilla is thus an important factor contributing to decreased occurrence of intraspecific aggressive behavior especially within a supercolony.
PMCID: PMC3480379  PMID: 23115632
2.  Regurgitation and remastication in the foregut-fermenting proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) 
Biology Letters  2011;7(5):786-789.
Although foregut fermentation is often equated with rumination in the literature, functional ruminants (ruminants, camelids) differ fundamentally from non-ruminant foregut fermenters (e.g. macropods, hippos, peccaries). They combine foregut fermentation with a sorting mechanism that allows them to remasticate large particles and clear their foregut quickly of digested particles; thus, they do not only achieve high degrees of particle size reduction but also comparatively high food intakes. Regurgitation and remastication of stomach contents have been described sporadically in several non-ruminant, non-primate herbivores. However, this so-called ‘merycism’ apparently does not occur as consistently as in ruminants. Here, to our knowledge we report, for the first time, regurgitation and remastication in 23 free-ranging individuals of a primate species, the foregut-fermenting proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus). In one male that was observed continuously during 169 days, the behaviour was observed on 11 different days occurring mostly in the morning, and was associated with significantly higher proportions of daily feeding time than on days when it was not observed. This observation is consistent with the concept that intensified mastication allows higher food intake without compromising digestive efficiency, and represents an expansion of the known physiological primate repertoire that converges with a strategy usually associated with ruminants only.
PMCID: PMC3169055  PMID: 21450728
rumination; merycism; foregut fermentation; herbivory; food intake
3.  Fine scale relationships between sex, life history, and dispersal of masu salmon 
Ecology and Evolution  2012;2(5):920-929.
Identifying the patterns and processes driving dispersal is critical for understanding population structure and dynamics. In many organisms, sex-biased dispersal is related to the type of mating system. Considerably, less is known about the influence of life-history variability on dispersal. Here we investigated patterns of dispersal in masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou) to evaluate influences of sex and life history on dispersal. As expected, assignment tests and isolation by distance analysis revealed that dispersal of marine-migratory masu salmon was male-biased. However, dispersal of resident and migratory males did not follow our expectation and marine-migratory individuals dispersed more than residents. This may be because direct competition between marine-migratory and resident males is weak or that the cost of dispersal is smaller for marine-migratory individuals. This study revealed that both sex and migratory life-history influence patterns of dispersal at a local scale in masu salmon.
PMCID: PMC3399158  PMID: 22837837
Alternative strategy; gene flow; life-history polymorphism; microsatellite DNA; Oncorhynchus masou; sex-biased dispersal; spatial genetic structure
4.  Ergatoid queen development in the ant Myrmecina nipponica: modular and heterochronic regulation of caste differentiation 
Caste polyphenism in social insects provides us with excellent opportunities to examine the plasticity and robustness underlying developmental pathways. Several ant species have evolved unusual castes showing intermediate morphologies between alate queens and wingless workers. In some low-temperature habitats, the ant Myrmecina nipponica produces such intermediate reproductives (i.e. ergatoids), which can mate and store sperm but cannot fly. To gain insight into the developmental and evolutionary aspects associated with ergatoid production, we conducted morphological and histological examinations of the post-embryonic development of compound eyes, gonads and wings during the process of caste differentiation. In compound eyes, both the queen-worker and ergatoid-worker differences were already recognized at the third larval instar. In gonads, queen-worker differentiation began at the larval stage, and ergatoid-worker differentiation began between the prepupal and pupal stages. Wing development in ergatoids was generally similar to that in workers throughout post-embryonic development. Our results showed that the developmental rate and timing of differentiation in body parts differed among castes and among body parts. These differences suggest that the rearrangement of modular body parts by heterochronic developmental regulation is responsible for the origination of novel castes, which are considered to be adaptations to specific ecological niches.
PMCID: PMC2880103  PMID: 20200029
caste development; heterochrony; imaginal primordia; modularity; social insect

Results 1-4 (4)