Are nests of Constrictotermes cyphergaster (Isoptera, Termitidae) important in the C cycle in the driest area of semiarid caatinga in northeast Brazil?

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Abstract

Termites play an important role in the carbon cycling of several ecosystems. Part of this C is directed to the formation of nests or mounds, but few published estimations have been made of the proportions of this C in relation to those in the vegetation and/or in the litter. The dynamics of C of Constrictotermes cyphergaster nests, in the driest part of caatinga, in semiarid northeast Brazil, was calculated considering all present, formed and abandoned nests in 1ha, for two years. Carbon concentrations were determined from samples taken from the core and the external layer of nests. Total aboveground biomasses of trees and shrubs in the 1ha were estimated by allometric equations. C concentrations were lower in the external layer (24-33gkg-1) than in the nest cores (38-76gkg-1). The stock of C in the nests of the sampled ha was 61.5kg, which represents about 0.6% of that in the plant aboveground biomass (10.25MgCha-1). The C in the annual formation and abandonment of nests (10.2kgha-1year-1) corresponded to 16% of the stock of C in the nests, 1.1% of the carbon in the annual litter production (925kgCha-1year-1) and 3.1% of the non-leaf litter. Although lower than the few values reported for more humid areas, these proportions indicate that C. cyphergaster nest formation contributes to C cycling in this very dry semiarid caatinga site. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

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Bezerra-Gusmão, M. A., Barbosa, J. R. C., Barbosa, M. R. de V., Bandeira, A. G., & Sampaio, E. V. S. B. (2011, January). Are nests of Constrictotermes cyphergaster (Isoptera, Termitidae) important in the C cycle in the driest area of semiarid caatinga in northeast Brazil? Applied Soil Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsoil.2010.11.003

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