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The influence of termites on soil sheeting properties varies depending on the materials on which they feed

Jouquet, Pascal and Guilleux, Nabila and Chintakunta, Sreenivasulu and Mendez, Mercedes and Subramanian, Sankaran and Shanbhag, Rashmi Ramesh (2015) The influence of termites on soil sheeting properties varies depending on the materials on which they feed. In: EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF SOIL BIOLOGY, 69 . pp. 74-78.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejsobi.2015.05.007


Fungus-growing termites are involved in many ecological processes and play a central role in influencing soil dynamics in the tropics. The physical and chemical properties of their nest structures have been largely described; however less information is available concerning the relatively temporary structures made above-ground to access food items and protect the foraging space (the soil `sheetings'). This study investigated whether the soil physical and chemical properties of these constructions are constant or if they vary depending on the type of food they cover. Soil samples and soil sheetings were collected in a forest in India, from leaves on the ground (LEAF), fallen branches (WOOD), and vertical soil sheetings covering the bark of trees (TREE). In this environment, termite diversity was dominated by Odontotermes species, and especially Odontotermes feae and Odontotermes obesus. However, there was no clear niche differentiation and, for example, O. feae termites were found on all the materials. Compared with the putative parent soil (control), TREE sheetings showed the greatest (and most significant) differences (higher clay content and smaller clay particle sizes, lower C and N content and smaller delta C-13 and delta N-15), while LEAF sheetings were the least modified, though still significantly different than the control soil. We suggest that the termite diversity is a less important driver of potential soil modification than sheeting diversity. Further, there is evidence that construction properties are adapted to their prospective life-span, with relatively long-lasting structures being most different from the parent soil. (C) 2015 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the ELSEVIER FRANCE-EDITIONS SCIENTIFIQUES MEDICALES ELSEVIER, 23 RUE LINOIS, 75724 PARIS, FRANCE
Keywords: Bioturbation; Clay; Ecological niches; Fungus-growing termites; India; Soil sheeting; Soil translocation
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Materials Engineering (formerly Metallurgy)
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2015 07:20
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2018 14:49
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/52071

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