|Title||The role of subterranean termites in the decomposition of above ground creosotebush litter|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1987|
|Authors||MacKay WP, Silva S, Loring SJ, Whitford WG|
|Keywords||article, articles, decomposition,termite, Gnathamitermes, journal, journals, Larrea, litter decomposition, termite,decomposition|
We investigated the role of the termite Gnathamitermes tubiformans (Isoptera: Termitidae) in the breakdown of above ground creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) litter in the northern Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico, USA. Comparison of decomposition rates of control plots with termite-excluded plots demonstrated that termites (and microarthropods) had no significant effect on mass loss. This species normally consumes other organic matter and only uses creosotebush litter when nothing else is available. This keystone species therefore plays a minor role in the breakdown of surface litter of the dominant shrub of the Chihuahuan Desert.