Termite Foraging on Plants of a Brazilian Savanna: the Effects of Tree Height

Geraldo Wilson Fernandes, Samuel L Murcia, Jean Carlos Santos, Og DeSouza, Reginaldo Constantino, Ives Haifig

Abstract


Termites play an important role as ecosystem engineers in many tropical environments, acting as herbivore-detritivore organisms and strongly influencing vegetation structure and composition by modifying soil properties, providing nutrients by recycling the organic matter, and direct feeding on plants, notably in the Cerrado (Savanna) of Brazil. To evaluate the intensity of termite foraging on Cerrado plants, we recorded plants higher than 25 cm, which exhibited termite activity along nine transects (2 x 50m), at the Estação Ecológica de Pirapitinga (EEP), in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. We recorded the height, basal area, and identified the species of each plant. Simultaneously, we used cellulose baits disposed at each 10 m along six transects of 100 m to sample termites in this area, which was protected from fire for at least 40 years. Twelve species of termites were recorded. Termite foraging on Cerrado plant species varied considerably and it was influenced by several factors including plant height and host species. Taller plants presented more termites than smaller plants, probably due to the amount of available resources (for nesting and feeding) for the termites.


Keywords


Plant-insect interactions; Isoptera; herbivory; Bauhinia brevipes

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v65i1.1802

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