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Termite environmental tolerances are more linked to desiccation than temperature in modified tropical forests

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Title: Termite environmental tolerances are more linked to desiccation than temperature in modified tropical forests
Authors: Woon, JS
Boyle, MJW
Ewers, RM
Chung, A
Eggleton, P
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Termites are vital members of old-growth tropical forests, being perhaps the main decomposers of dead plant material at all stages of humification (decay). Termite abundance and diversity drop in selectively logged forest, and it has been hypothesised that this drop is due to a low tolerance to changing micro-climatic conditions. Specifically, the thermal adaptation hypothesis suggests that tropical species are operating at, or close to, their thermal optimum, and therefore, small temperature increases can have drastic effects on abundance, however, other climatic variables such as humidity might also cause termite abundance to drop. We tested termite tolerance to these two climatic variables (temperature and humidity). We found that termites had a higher CTmax than expected, and that three traits, feeding group, body sclerotisation, and nesting type, were significantly correlated with CTmax. We found that termite desiccation tolerance was low, however, and that all termite genera lost significantly more water in a desiccated environment than in a control. Body sclerotisation, the only trait that was tested, was surprisingly not significantly correlated with desiccation tolerance. Our results suggest that desiccation, rather than ambient temperature, may be the determining factor in dictating termite distributions in modified forests. Should climate change lead to reduced humidity within tropical rainforests, termite abundances and the rates of the functions they perform could be severely reduced.
Issue Date: 1-Feb-2019
Date of Acceptance: 26-Sep-2018
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/83290
DOI: 10.1007/s00040-018-0664-1
ISSN: 0020-1812
Publisher: Springer
Start Page: 57
End Page: 64
Journal / Book Title: Insectes Sociaux
Volume: 66
Issue: 1
Copyright Statement: © 2019 The Authors. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Sponsor/Funder: Rainforest Research Sdn Bhd
Funder's Grant Number: LBEE_P34395
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Entomology
Climate
CTmax
Decomposition
Ectotherms
Humidity
OIL PALM PLANTATION
LOWLAND POPULATIONS
BODY MELANISATION
DROSOPHILA
RESPONSES
DISTURBANCE
RESISTANCE
THERMOREGULATION
BIODIVERSITY
ECTOTHERMS
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Entomology
Climate
CTmax
Decomposition
Ectotherms
Humidity
OIL PALM PLANTATION
LOWLAND POPULATIONS
BODY MELANISATION
DROSOPHILA
RESPONSES
DISTURBANCE
RESISTANCE
THERMOREGULATION
BIODIVERSITY
ECTOTHERMS
Entomology
0603 Evolutionary Biology
0608 Zoology
Publication Status: Published
Open Access location: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00040-018-0664-1
Online Publication Date: 2018-10-05
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences



This item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons