If you are experiencing problems downloading PDF or HTML fulltext, our helpdesk recommend clearing your browser cache and trying again. If you need help in clearing your cache, please click here . Still need help? Email help@ingentaconnect.com

Fungus culturing, nutrient mining and geophagy: a geochemical investigation of Macrotermes and Trinervitermes mounds in southern Africa

$48.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)

Download / Buy Article:

Abstract:

Abstract

Termite mounds are commonly enriched in clay and nutrients relative to surrounding topsoils. We hypothesized that: (1) nutrient enrichment of mounds differs between fungus-culturing (FC) and non-FC termites; (2) FC termites preferentially acquire materials rich in scarce nutrients which promote growth of their fungus cultures; and (3) micro-nutrient enrichment in mounds of FC termites is beneficial for wildlife. In a preliminary investigation of these hypotheses, we sampled mounds (and adjacent topsoil) of Macrotermes (FC) and Trinervitermes (non-FC) termites in Namibia and South Africa, respectively. Analyses included: 27 elements by ICPMS after a nitric acid–hydrogen peroxide digest, organic carbon, a seven fraction particle size analysis, and pH and EC (1:5 soil:water extracts). Macrotermes mounds showed significant (1.6–3.7-fold) enrichment of 23 of the 27 elements analysed relative to topsoil. By contrast, Trinervitermes mounds showed no enrichment. Clay enrichment of Macrotermes mounds (4.7–6.5-fold) was strongly correlated with element enrichment (r2 range: 0.76–0.77), suggesting that amendment of soil texture is a main factor in enrichment. Marked enrichment of only certain nutrients in mounds – namely Mn, Co, Cu and Se – was evident at certain nutrient-poor sites, suggesting that specific materials such as Mn oxides (which adsorb Co, Cu and Se) may be gathered by termites in disproportionate amounts relative to their abundance in soils. These nutrients are likely to enhance the productivity of the fungus culture and hence the termite colony. Parts of certain mounds were enriched in Se (1.3–3.6 mg Se kg−1) to a degree likely to attract geophagy. It is suggested that in some landscapes Macrotermes mounds provide a critical supply of micro-nutrients to wildlife.

Keywords: clay; cobalt; copper; geophagy; manganese; micro-nutrients; selenium; termites

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00544.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Soil Science, Stellenbosch University, Matieland, South Africa 2: 10 Yilgarn St, Shenton Park, Western Australia 6008, Australia 3: Institute of Soil Science, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Publication date: May 1, 2009

Related content

Tools

Favourites

Share Content

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more