n African Entomology - Mound-building termite (Blattaria : Isoptera) mound density and ecological correlates in a southern African savanna reserve : short communications




Termites are widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions, where they are dominant members of the soil fauna and are often important ecological engineers (Whitford 2000; Davies . 2003). They generally feed below-ground on dead plant material or on standing, dead herbaceous or woody plants and vegetation litter (Jouquet . 2005; Berge . 2008). Termite mounds can reduce plant stands, with plant colonization hampered by hardness of mound soil or by active termite foraging (Malaka 1977; Pomeroy 1983). Yet sometimes, plant growth can increase on and around intact termitaria (Flemming & Loveridge 2003; Jouquet . 2005), while rainfall runoff at the base of the termitarium enables grasses to survive drought (Steinke & Nel 1989). Termitaria can also serve as seed reserves (Steinke & Nel 1989), as some termite species relocate sparsely-distributed food resources into the mound, which in turn, acts as a concentrated central seed store (Dangerfield 1990), and alters rate of seed growth and senescence (Curry 1987).


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