The importance of subterranean termites in semi-arid ecosystems in south-eastern Australia

TitleThe importance of subterranean termites in semi-arid ecosystems in south-eastern Australia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsWhitford WG, Ludwig J., Noble JC
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Date Published1992
Call Number00408
Keywordsarticle, articles, Australia,termites, decomposition,termite, journal, journals, termite,Australia

In mulga, Acacia aneura, woodland in north-western New South Wales, Australia, subterranean termites, constructed foraging galleries over organic debris, litter fragments, litter trains, dead wood, dead grass in perennial grass clumps and kangaroo and sheep dung. The larger quantities of litter, litter trains and dead wood in the mulga groves resulted in higher cover of termite gallery sheeting in this habitat, 6.56+-1.02%, than in the intergrove erosion slopes, 2.2.8+-0.32%. In the upper 20 cm of soil there were 52.1 storage galleries m-2. In mallee-spinifex habitats in south-western New South Wales, there was no evidence of subterranean termite feeding on dung or the dead stems of spinifex grass, Triodia iritans, but dead stems of mallee, Eucalyptus spp. were galleried and etched by termites. The numbers of sub-surface termite storage galleries in this habitat averaged 137.5 m-2. These galleries ranged between 4.5 and 49.0 cm3. These data suggest that subterranean termites in these Australian ecosystems may be more important as detritivores and in their effects on hydrological properties of soil than has been documented for subterranean termites in the Chihuahuan Desert of North America.