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Abundance and Impact on Soil Properties of Cathedral and Lenticular Termite Mounds in Southern Indian Woodlands

Jouquet, Pascal and Airola, Etienne and Guilleux, Nabila and Harit, Ajay and Chaudhary, Ekta and Grellier, Seraphine and Riotte, Jean (2017) Abundance and Impact on Soil Properties of Cathedral and Lenticular Termite Mounds in Southern Indian Woodlands. In: ECOSYSTEMS, 20 (4). pp. 769-780. (In Press)

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10021-016-0060-5

Abstract

Despite the acknowledged roles of termites in tropical ecosystems, the majority of published studies of epigeal mounds still address the African fauna and are principally concerned with spatial patterns and putative inter-colony competition, rather than the links between parent soil properties and mound establishment. Further, information about the effects of habitat disturbance, and especially fragmentation, is lacking. This study assessed the abundance and distribution of the cathedral- and lenticular-type aboveground mounds of fungus-growing termites (Macrotermitinae), which are a common feature of South Indian woodlands, in relation to soil properties (vertisol vs. ferralsol) and habitat fragmentation (forest vs. highway margins). Mound abundance averaged 3.5 (standard error, SE 0.8) ha(-1) (cathedral) and 12.9 (SE 2.1) ha(-1) (lenticular), but was not influenced either by soil properties or disturbance. However, the volume of soil stored in the mounds varied between 27 (SE 8) m(3) ha(-1) (ferralsol) and 47 (SE 6) m(3) ha(-1) (vertisol). At the watershed scale, such volumes are equivalent to a 3.1-mm layer of soil if spread evenly across the landscape, roughly the same as the estimated erosion over the life of a typical mound. Significantly more nutrients were stored in lenticular mounds, especially on the vertisol, but the significance of these at the ecosystem level was considered small. In conclusion, this study suggests that termite mounds, and especially lenticular mounds, have a significant impact on soil dynamics at the watershed scale but a limited impact on the distribution of C and nutrients.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the SPRINGER, 233 SPRING ST, NEW YORK, NY 10013 USA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Division of Mechanical Sciences > Civil Engineering
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2017 10:07
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2017 10:07
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/57228

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