Lacking a comprehensive fossil record, solitary representatives of the taxa, and/or a definitive phylogeny of closely related insects, comparison of the life history and social biology of basal, living groups is one of the few available options for developing inferences regarding the early eusocial evolution of ants and termites. Comparisons of a select group of basal formicid and isopteran taxa suggest that the reproductive organization of colonies and their patterns of division of labor were particularly influenced, in both groups, by nesting and feeding ecology. Opportunities for serial inheritance of the nest structure and colony population by kin may have been significant in the evolution of multiple reproductive forms and options. Disease has been a significant factor in the evolution of social organization in ants and termites, but the adaptive mechanisms of infection control differ. Evaluations of the convergent and divergent social biology of the two taxa can generate novel domains of research and testable hypotheses.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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