Changes in the Contribution of Termites to Mass Loss of Dead Wood among Three Tree Species during 23 Months in a Lowland Tropical Rainforest

Yujin Roh, Sohye Lee, Guanlin Li, Seongjun Kim, Jongyeol Lee, Seung Hyun Han, Hanna Chang, Kamariah Abu Salim, Yowhan Son


This study investigated the contribution of termites to mass loss of dead wood (Macaranga bancana, Elateriospermum tapos, and Dillenia beccariana) in a lowland tropical rainforest, Brunei Darussalam. Mesh bag method was used to exclude termites, and the mass remaining was monitored after 3, 7, 13, and 23 months. C/N ratio of the samples was analyzed after 13 and 23 months. Initial wood density was 0.63, 0.92, and 1.02 g/cm3 for M. bancana, E. tapos, and D. beccariana, respectively, and the termite contribution to mass loss was an average (range) of 13.05±5.68 (4.17-29.59%), 3.48±1.13 (2.20-6.49), and 3.40±1.92% (0.74-10.78), respectively. Until 7 months, termites contributed highly to mass loss, given the low initial wood density, and interaction effect of species and treatment was significant. After 7 months, the contribution decreased in M. bancana and E. tapos, whereas it increased consistently in D. beccariana. The interaction effect was not significant, whereas differences in C/N ratio among the species were significant, with a lower C/N ratio in M. bancana and E. tapos than in D. beccariana. After 23 months, the differences in C/N ratio were not significant, and ants were present at 40% of control samples in M. bancana and E. tapos. Our results suggest that the contribution of termites to mass loss varies by dead wood species and is temporally variable. Initial wood traits could affect the termite feeding in the beginning, however, termites thereafter could forage in response to the varying C/N ratio among species and predators.


termite; decomposition; mesh bag method

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