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Tolerance of Aardwolves to Defense Secretions of Trinervitermes trinervoides
Philip R. K. Richardson and Colin D. Levitan
Journal of Mammalogy
Vol. 75, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 84-91
Published by: American Society of Mammalogists
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1382238
Page Count: 8
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Trinervitermes trinervoides provides over 90% of the diet of aardwolves (Proteles cristatus) in South Africa. The soldiers of this termite possess highly effective chemical-defense secretions preventing most myrmecophagous mammals from specializing on them as a primary source of food. Soldiers of T. trinervoides were collected, liquidized in oil, and then added in different concentrations to the diets of captive aardwolves, African civets (Civettictis civetta), and bat-eared foxes (Otocyon megalotis). The foxes refused to feed on the termite mixture, whereas the civets and aardwolves tolerated concentrations of 1.0% and >7.5% respectively; this supports the hypothesis that ancestral aardwolves were phylogenetically preadapted, via their viverrid-like ancestors, to tolerate noxious chemicals and hence the defense secretions of soldiers of Trinervitermes.
Journal of Mammalogy © 1994 American Society of Mammalogists