Termite Foraging Activity on Desertified Shrublands and Grasslands on the Jornada Basin, 1988-2000

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Termites are important to litter decomposition and nutrient cycling in desert grasslands. The annual feeding activity on paper baits of subterranean termites in desertified (degraded-shrub dominated ecosystems) and relatively undegraded black-grama (Bouteloua eriopoda) grasslands was measured over six years on 12 sites on the Jornada Basin. Toilet paper roll termite baits were placed on grids on each consumer plot. Data include initial bait weights and bait weights after baits had been retrieved from the field once each year. Weight loss was calculated as a measure of termite foraging activity. This study is complete.

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-Field data sheets were used.

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A 5 by 5 grid of 25 toilet paper roll baits is randomly located in each consumer plot. Baits are positioned 1 m apart. Each bait is placed on a rebar rod driven into the ground, and covered with a #10 coffee can. Toilet paper rolls are James River (TM) brand, single-ply, white paper. Each bait is oven dried (55 C; 96 hours), weighed before placement in the field, and then oven dried and weighed again after being collected from the field. The difference in placement weight and retrieval weight is calculated as weight loss. Baits are placed in the field in mid-winter and picked-up the following mid-winter. After collection from field, baits are cleaned of dirt, termite casing, and other foreign debris prior to oven-drying. It should be noted that it is not usually possible to remove all casing material because of its strong adhesion to the bait.

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Once per year (samples left in the field for 12 months). This study is complete.

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