Termite activity in relation to natural grassland soil attributes

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Abstract

Soil-feeding termites transport soil for mound building, and this process can affect soil characteristics. To verify the influence of soil termite activity on soil characteristics, samples were collected from top, bottom and center of termite mounds, and of the adjacent area, to assess chemical and physical properties and mineralogical composition. Four replicates of termite mounds and respective adjacent areas were randomly sampled in Lages, Capão Alto, Painel, São José do Cerrito and Coxilha Rica (State of Santa Catarina, southern Brazil). Results of chemical analyses showed a greater content of K, P, Ca, Mg and organic C in the inner part of termite mounds, accompanied by lower pH in relation to soil of the adjacent area. There were no differences regarding clay mineral composition between termite mounds and adjacent soil, however the proportion of sand and clay differed between them. It is concluded that termites modify soil characteristics due to great volume of soil transported per ascensum for mound construction (varying from 20.9 m 3 ha-1 to 136.6 m3 ha-1, in this study) which promotes a strong pedo-bioperturbation and affects nutrient cycling and soil physical properties.

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Kaschuk, G., Santos, J. C. P., Almeida, J. A., Sinhorati, D. C., & Berton, J. F. (2006). Termite activity in relation to natural grassland soil attributes. Scientia Agricola, 63(6), 583–588. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0103-90162006000600013

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