Brian, M. V. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Furzebrook Research Station, Wareham, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:May 2020
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- Bees and wasps
- Nest construction
- Symbiosis with other organisms
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Insects that share resources and reproduce cooperatively. Social insects live in large, cooperative colonies and have evolved in various ways to maximize their fitness. In general, social insects adhere to social hierarchies, interacting and reproducing cooperatively, as well as sharing resources. The shared resources are shelter, defense, and food (collection or production). After a period of population growth, the insects reproduce in several ways. As social insect groups grow, they evolve more differentiation between members, but reintegrate into a more closely organized system known as eusocial. These are the most advanced societies with individual polymorphism (the phenomenon of different forms among the members of a single species or colony), and they contain insects of various ages, sizes, and shapes. The eusocial insects include termites (which belong to the order Blattodea) [Fig. 1], bees, wasps, and ants (the latter three types are members of the order Hymenoptera). See also: Blattodea; Hymenoptera; Insecta; Polymorphism (genetics); Population ecology; Social hierarchy; Sociobiology; Termite
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