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Effects of Soil Cations on the Foraging Behavior of Reticulitermes flavipes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

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This study examined soil cation concentration gradients around decomposing logs and determined whether Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) builds galleries in soil substrates containing those cations versus soils without, presumably in an effort to forage efficiently. Soil samples were collected at different depths and lateral distances from decomposing logs containing termites, freshly fallen logs without termites, and bare soil locations at 10 sites to determine whether cation gradients existed in a forest floor. Analyses of cation gradients were significant for potassium, calcium, and magnesium; however, only potassium showed a significant gradient where concentrations decreased with depth and lateral distance from a decomposing log. R. flavipes was then tested in laboratory bioassays to determine if they were attracted to salt cation solutions. Linear foraging distance was significantly greater in artificial K2CO3 gradients than in controls. The results from this study suggest that potassium is found in gradients around decomposing logs and that R. flavipes is attracted to this cation.

Keywords: Reticulitermes flavipes; cations; foraging; soil; termite

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC10118

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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