Relative occurrence of the family Kalotermitidae (Isoptera) under different termite sampling methods

Rudolf H Scheffrahn, James A Chase, John R. Mangold, Henry H Hochmair


The termite family Kalotermitidae constitutes a wood-nesting termite family that accounts for about 15% of all extant termite species. In recent decades, field studies have been carried out to assess termite diversity in various wooded habitats and geographic locations. Three sampling methods have been favored expert, transect, and alate light-trap surveys. Expert collecting is not spatially quantifiable but relies on field personnel to recognize and sample termite niches. The transect method aims to standardize and quantify termite abundance and diversity. Light trapping is a passive method for sampling nocturnal alate flights. We compared our expert survey results and results of published sampling methods for their proportional yields of kalotermitid versus non-kalotermitid encounters. Using an odds ratio statistic, we found that worldwide, there is about a 50.6-fold greater likelihood of encountering a kalotermitid sample versus a non-kalotermitid using the expert survey method and a 15.3-fold greater likelihood using alate trapping than using the transect method. There is about a 3.3 -fold greater likelihood of collecting a kalotermitid specimen versus a non-kalotermitid sample using the expert survey method than using the alate trap method. Transect studies in which only termite species diversity was reported gave similar low Kalotermitidae yields. We propose that multiple biases in sampling methodology include tools, time constraints, habitat type, geographical location, topographical conditions, and human traits account for the divergent outcomes in sampling the abundance and diversity of Kalotermitidae compared to other termite families.


Expert survey; transect survey; alate trap survey

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