subterranean termite, invasive species, agonistic behavior, tunnel blockage
Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki and C. gestroi (Wasmann) are the most widely distributed species of the genus and occur sympatrically in the subtropics. Results of two bioassays in the current study showed that C. gestroi was more aggressive than C. formosanus. In the Petri-dish bioassays, C. gestroi won most of the agonistic encounters over C. formosanus. In the two-dimensional foraging arena bioassays, over 73% tunnel interceptions observed in the 18 replications were caused by progressing tunnels of C. gestroi encountering the tunnels of C. formosanus. Tunnel interception of the two species resulted in minor agonistic interactions. Both species quickly buried the connected tunnel at multiple locations. Termite cadavers resulting from agonistic behavior appeared to have induced sand deposition that resulted in tunnel blockages and deterred reopening of these blockages. Sealing individual tunnels in response to encounters with other species acts to prevent further agonism and mortality, and on a broad scale, the aggregate of such blocked tunnels may come to define the borders between adjacent colonies.