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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Insecticide Resistance Management and New Control Strategies for Pests of Corn, Cotton, Sorghum, Soybean, and Sweet Potato

Location: Southern Insect Management Research Unit

Title: Survey of subterranean termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) utilization of temperate forests

Authors
item Little, Nathan
item Blount, Nathan -
item Caprio, Michael -
item Riggins, John -

Submitted to: Sociobiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 23, 2014
Publication Date: June 1, 2014
Citation: Little, N., Blount, N.A., Caprio, M.A., Riggins, J.J. 2014. Survey of subterranean termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) utilization of temperate forests. Sociobiology. 61(2):198-206.

Interpretive Summary: This manuscript invesatigates native and non-native subterranean termite utilization of woody resources in local forests. The dataset used for this study was extensive; 7,413 stumps were physically inspected, 6,072 softwoods and 1,341 hardwood, on eleven different sites across 5 different counties/parishes and two states in the southern U.S. To our knowledge, this is the first manuscript to address native and non-native subterranean termite utilization of living trees in southern forests. These findings have important implications for forest ecology, as the ecological role of subterranean termites in temperate forest nutrient cycles is relatively unknown. This survey could change our understanding of the role subterranean termites in the early stages of decay in temperate forests, and their role in those fundamental processes. The findings of this manuscript are novel and highly relevant to forest ecology in the southern U.S.

Technical Abstract: Both native and invasive subterranean termites (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), including the Formosan subterranean termite, are well known pests of urban areas, but little is known about their distribution or impact in forest ecosystems of the southeastern United States. Recently harvested timber stumps were mechanically inspected for the presence of subterranean termites in multiple locations across southern Mississippi and eastern Louisiana. A systematic line plot cruise with 100 x 200m spacing and1/20thha plots was implemented, and all stumps with a diameter greater than 7.6cm were inspected. In total, 7,413 stumps were inspected for the presence of subterranean termites, and 406 of those contained native subterranean termite (Reticulitermes spp) infestations. Light traps were also placed at 8 sites to detect the presence of subterranean termite alates. While no invasive Formosan subterranean termites were found during mechanical inspection of tree stumps, alates were captured in light traps at three sites. The proportion of stumps infested with subterranean termites was negatively correlated with the number of stumps in each plot. Although 6.27% of pine stumps and 1.86% of hardwood stumps were infested, no correlation was found between subterranean termite presence and type of stump (pine or hardwood). Infestations of stumps by subterranean termites ranged from 0.94% to 14.97% depending on site.

Last Modified: 10/31/2014
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