|Title||The relative contributions of termites and microarthropods to fluff grass litter disappearance in the Chihuahuan Desert|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1985|
|Authors||Silva S, MacKay WP, Whitford WG|
|Keywords||article, articles, decomposition,microarthropods, decomposition,termites, Erioneuron,decomposition, journal, journals, litter,Erioneuron decomposition, microarthropod,decomposition, pesticide, Chlordane, termite,decomposition|
We tested the hypotheses that both subterranean termites and soil microarthropods are important in the disappearance of fluff grass (Erioneuron pulchellum) litter on the soil surface by an experiment designed to separate termite and microarthropod effects. Subterranean termites (Gnathamitermes tubiformans) removed more than 50% of the fluff grass litter in one year. Since there was no difference in mass loss of fluff grass with microarthropods present or excluded, they had no effect on decomposition of fluff grass litter. Microarthropod densities increased during the first 3 months then slowly decreased. The densities of microarthropods in fluff grass litter were too low to have a measurable effect of decomposition even if we assumed that the microarthropods consumed litter equivalent to their body weight each day.