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Impact of subterranean fungus-growing termites (Isoptera, Macrotermitiane) on chosen soil properties in a West African savanna

Abstract : Fungus-growing termites (Isoptera, Macrotermitinae) play an important role in tropical ecosystems in modifying soil physical properties. Most of the literature regarding the impact of termites on soil properties refers to termite epigeous mounds. In spite of their abundance and activity in African savannas, few studies deal with the properties of underground nest structures (fungus-comb chambers) built by subterranean Macrotermitinae termites. We tested whether these termites significantly modify the soil physico-chemical properties within their nests in a humid tropical savanna and whether these effects are different for two termite species with differing building behaviour. Termite-worked soil material was collected from fungus-comb chamber walls of two widespread species: Ancistrotermes cavithorax, which builds diffuse and ephemeral nests and Odontotermes nr pauperans, which most often builds concentrated and permanent nests for a comparatively much longer period of time. Neither species influenced soil pH but both significantly modified soil texture and C-N content in their nest structures. A strong impact on clay-particle size was also detected but no significant differences in clay mineralogy. Thus Odontotermes has a greater effect on soil properties, that could be explained by its building behaviour and the concentration in space of its nest units. Therefore, spatial pattern and life-span of fungus-comb chambers should be an important parameter to be considered in the functional role of subterranean Macrotermitinae termites in the savanna.
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Contributor : Pascal Jouquet Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - 3:48:48 PM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 2:38:10 PM


  • HAL Id : bioemco-00396318, version 1
  • PRODINRA : 249457


Pascal Jouquet, Pierre Barré, Michel Le Page, Bruce Velde. Impact of subterranean fungus-growing termites (Isoptera, Macrotermitiane) on chosen soil properties in a West African savanna. Biology and Fertility of Soils, Springer Verlag, 2005, 41 (5), pp.365-370. ⟨bioemco-00396318⟩



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