Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Mounds maximize ecosystem productivity: Odontotermes termites
 

The below-ground mounds of Odontotermes termites strongly influence savanna productivity via ordered spatial distribution and modification of soil composition.

       
  "The finding that regular spatial patterns can emerge in nature from  local interactions between organisms has prompted a search for the  ecological importance of these patterns. Theoretical models have  predicted that patterning may have positive emergent effects on  fundamental ecosystem functions, such as productivity. We provide  empirical support for this prediction. In dryland ecosystems, termite  mounds are often hotspots of plant growth (primary productivity). Using  detailed observations and manipulative experiments in an African  savanna, we show that these mounds are also local hotspots of animal  abundance (secondary and tertiary productivity): insect abundance and  biomass decreased with distance from the nearest termite mound, as did  the abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of insect-eating  predators. Null-model analyses indicated that at the landscape scale,  the evenly spaced distribution of termite mounds produced dramatically  greater abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of consumers across  trophic levels than would be obtained in landscapes with randomly  distributed mounds. These emergent properties of spatial pattern arose  because the average distance from an arbitrarily chosen point to the  nearest feature in a landscape is minimized in landscapes where the  features are hyper-dispersed (i.e., uniformly spaced). This suggests  that the linkage between patterning and ecosystem functioning will be  common to systems spanning the range of human management intensities.  The centrality of spatial pattern to system-wide biomass accumulation  underscores the need to conserve pattern-generating organisms and  mechanisms, and to incorporate landscape patterning in efforts to  restore degraded habitats and maximize the delivery of ecosystem  services." (Pringle et al. 2010:e1000377)

  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Pringle RM; Doak DF; Brody AK; Jocqué R; Palmer TM. 2010. Spatial pattern enhances ecosystem functioning in an African savanna. PLoS Biol. 8(5): e1000377.
  • 2010. Lowly termite, not the lion or elephant, may be the star of Africa's savanna. EurekAlert! [Internet],
  • 2010. Star of Africa's savanna ecosystems may be the lowly termite: regularly spaced termite mounds are key to maintaining ecological function. ScienceDaily [Internet],
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Functional adaptation

Bacteria help volatilize and mineralize ammonia: termites
 

The gut bacteria of soil-feeding termites help make soil nitrogen available to plants and protect from ammonia toxicity via ammonia volatilization and mineralization.

     
  "Volatilization of ammonia [about 10 nmol (g fresh wt.)_1 h_1], either directly by emission from the termite body or indirectly from their feces, led to NH3 concentrations in the nest atmosphere of C. [Cubitermes] ugandensis that were three orders of magnitude above the ambient background – a relative accumulation that is considerably higher than that observed with CH4 and CO2. Together with previous results, these observations document that through their feeding activity and due to the physicochemical and biochemical properties of their digestive system, soil-feeding termites effectively catalyze the transformation of refractory soil organic nitrogen to a plant-available form that is protected from leaching by adsorption to the nest soil. Nitrogen mineralization rates of soil-feeding termites may surpass those effected by tropical earthworms and should contribute significantly to nitrogen fluxes in tropical ecosystems." (Ji and Brune 2006:267)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Ji, R.; Brune, A. 2006. Nitrogen mineralization, ammonia accumulation, and emission of gaseous NH3 by soil-feeding termites. Biogeochemistry. 78(3): 267-283.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:1,467Public Records:456
Specimens with Sequences:1,132Public Species:116
Specimens with Barcodes:1,034Public BINs:133
Species:262         
Species With Barcodes:224         
          
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Barcode data

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Termitidae

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Wikipedia

Termitidae

Termitidae is a family of termite, containing the following subfamilies:[1]


  • Termitidae Latreille, 1802
    • Subfamily Apicotermitinae Grassé & Noirot, 1954 [1955] (synonym: Indotermitidae Roonwal & Sen Sarma in Roonwal, 1958)
    • Subfamily Cubitermitinae Weidner, 1956
    • Subfamily Foraminitermitinae Holmgren, 1912 (synonym: Pseudomicrotermitinae Holmgren, 1912)
    • Subfamily Macrotermitinae Kemner, 1934, nomen protectum [ICZN 2003] (synonyms: Acanthotermitinae Sjöstedt, 1926, nomen rejiciendum [ICZN 2003]; Odontotermitini Weidner, 1956
    • Subfamily Nasutitermitinae Hare, 1937
    • Subfamily Sphaerotermitinae Engel & Krishna, 2004a
    • Subfamily Syntermitinae Engel & Krishna, 2004a (synonym: Cornitermitinae Ensaf et al., 2004, nomen nudum)
    • Subfamily Termitinae Latreille, 1802 (synonyms: Microcerotermitinae Holmgren, 1910b; Amitermitinae Kemner, 1934; Mirocapritermitinae Kemner, 1934; Mirotermitini Weidner, 1956; Capritermitini Weidner, 1956)

References

  1. ^ Engel, M.S. (2011). "Family-group names for termites (Isoptera), redux". ZooKeys 148: 171–184. doi:10.3897/zookeys.148.1682. 
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