Richness of Lichens Consumed by Constrictotermes cyphergaster in the Semi-arid Region of Brazil

Ana Márcia Barbosa-Silva, Amanda Cosme da Silva, Eugênia Cristina Gonçalves Pereira, Maria de Lourdes Lacerda Buril, Nicácio Henrique da Silva, Marcela Eugenia da Silva Cáceres, André Aptroot, Maria Avany Bezerra-Gusmão

Abstract


The consumption of lichens by Constrictotermes cyphergaster termites is suggested in the literature, but not yet with concrete evidence. We examined the use and richness of lichens consumed by C. cyphergaster during both the dry and rainy seasons in a semiarid environment in northeastern Brazil by monitoring the foraging of five termite colonies for ten consecutive days during each period. Twenty-nine species of corticolous lichens were consumed by C. cyphergaster, with seasonal variations in the richness of their ingestion. Chrysothrix xanthine, Pertusaria flavens, and Dirinaria confluens were the lichen species most consumed. TLC analyzes of termite gut contents revealed twelve secondary lichen compounds ingested in both seasons, while staining showed fragments of fungal hyphae, green algae, and typical lichen spores. This study represents the first systematic survey of the abundances of lichens that compose the diet of C. cyphergaster and indicates the seasonal selectivity of that resource related to the chemical compositions of the lichen stalks.


Keywords


Food resources; Nutritional ecology; Foraging; Seasonality; Termites

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v66i1.3665

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