Differentiation between populations of a termite in eastern Africa: implications for biogeography

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Abstract:

Abstract Aim 

African forests are divided by an arid corridor which runs from the Horn of Africa to the Namib Desert. Several forest species occur in the forests of eastern Africa as well as in the Guineo-Congolian forest block. We evaluate the possibility that such species may have crossed the arid corridor along a route through the Kenyan Highlands and down the eastern drainages during climatologically favourable periods in the past. Locations 

Eastern Africa, Ivory Coast. Methods 

We used the termite species Schedorhinotermes lamanianus (Sj√∂stedt). This species occurs in lowland forests and woodland throughout Africa south of the Sahara. We sampled termites from 12 populations. We evaluated the differentiation between populations using amplified fragment length polymorphisms as well as morphometrical measurements. Results 

Genetic and morphometrical analysis demonstrated substantial differentiation between populations west and east of the arid corridor in Kenya. To the east of this corridor we found an increase of morphological distance with geographical distance. Schedorhinotermes lamanianus occurs not only along the coast but also at isolated locations (e.g. ground-water forests in foothills) within the arid hinterland. Main conclusions 

We interpret these populations as remnants of a wider distribution during wet climatic periods. At these times, populations of S. lamanianus were apparently able to establish along extensive gallery forests protruding into the arid belt of the Kenyan hinterland. There have been no connections between populations of this species east and west of the arid corridor across the Kenyan Highlands.

Keywords: AFLP; Guineo-Congolian forests; Isoptera; Kenya; Schedorhinotermes lamanianus; arid corridor; biogeography; coastal forests; morphometry

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2006.01556.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Community Ecology, UFZ – Centre for Environmental Research, Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4, D-06120 Halle/Saale 2: Department of Animal Ecology, Faculty of Biology, Philipps-University of Marburg, Karl-von-Frisch-Str., D-35032 Marburg, Germany

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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