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1 October 2009 Excavation of Field Collected Soils by Reticulitermes flavipes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)
K. S. Brown, B. M. Kard, M. E. Payton, D. R. Kuehl
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Movement of soil by foraging subterranean termites is important from both an ecological (i.e., soil quality, nutrient cycling) and control standpoint. Previous studies indicated a positive relationship between proportions of sand in a substrate and termite tunneling rates. The purpose of this study was to evaluate tunneling and soil movement capabilities of Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) in a no-choice test using field-collected soils comprised of different proportions of sand, silt, and clay. Results indicate that soil texture significantly influences both the rate of tunneling and amount of soil removed from foraging tubes. Termites tunneled at a significantly faster rate and excavated significantly more soil from foraging tubes packed with soil containing relatively higher proportions of sand. Soil texture had little effect on mortality or wood consumption. Soil movement capabilities of subterranean termites in a native tallgrass prairie habitat and the resulting impact on soil turnover in this unique ecosystem are discussed.

K. S. Brown, B. M. Kard, M. E. Payton, and D. R. Kuehl "Excavation of Field Collected Soils by Reticulitermes flavipes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)," Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 82(4), 283-292, (1 October 2009).
Accepted: 1 March 2009; Published: 1 October 2009
Reticulitermes flavipes
soil movement
tallgrass prairie
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