The behavioural adaptation in social insects could be best described as …..

This question is derived from JAMB Past Question  2013 in Biology Paper Type U.

Adaptations of plants and animals forms the integral part of JAMB examination. Here, the examiner wants to test candidates knowledge of elementary ecology.

This is how the question goes…

The behavioural adaptation in social insects could be best described as …..

  • (a) saprophytism
  • (b) parasitism
  • (c) commercialism
  • (d) symbiosis


How to tackle this question.

Ask yourself, what are social insects? Social insect

Social insects are those insects that exhibit “social behaviours” e.g feeding aggregations, parental care of the young, build and share communal nest sites. These insects interacts a alot among another member in it’s own species.

A typical example of social insects are termites

With that in mind, you begin to test the options to see which one is actually correct.

(a) Parasitism is a non-mutual relationship between two species of plants or animals which one benefit at the expense of another. Example is maleria parasite (plasmodium) that feeds on human blood cells at the expense of human exposure to sickness.  So, this in not how termites behave and that’s not the correct option.

(b) Saprophytism explains the kind of relationship between a mold that grows on top of a decayed bread. It feeds on dead organic matter and obtain nutrients from it. Saprophytes are plants, fungus, or micro-organism that live on dead or decomposing matter. That’s not the correct option here

(c) commensalism is a class of relationship between two organisms where one organism benefits from another without harming or affecting it. Its a relationship between two individuals of two species in which one species obtain food or benefit from another without either harming or benefiting the latter. So, this is not the answer either.

(d) symbiosis is a mutualistic relationship wich is characterized with closed long term interaction between two or more different species. They depict people living together in a community. A typical example is termite. So, this is the correct answer.

Hint: For any multiple choice question, try to judge the options with your current knowledge of the subject matter before you chose your answer.

You can now see why (d) symbiosis is the correct answer to this question.

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