, Volume 70, Issue 4, pp 559-567

The distribution, abundance, and the effects of fire on mound building termites (Trinervitermes and Cubitermes spp., Isoptera: Termitidae) in northern guinea savanna West Africa

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Termite mound densities in typical guinea savanna, Detarium, and grassland (boval) habitats in northern guinea savanna were determined by random quadratting of 2–3 sites in each habitat (100, 10x10 m quadrats per habitat). Dominant species in guinea savanna were T. geminatus (46 mounds ha-1) and T. oeconomus (21 mounds ha-1), in Detarium T. geminatus (59 mounds ha-1) and C. curtatus (45 mounds ha-1) and in boval C. curtatus (72 mounds ha-1) and T. geminatus (22 mounds ha-1). Only C. curtatus densities and total densities differed significantly between sites within habitats, but all species differed significantly in abundance between habitats. The composition of each community was related to general environment but no particular environmental variable was shown to be a major determinant of termite distribution. Evidence for the limitation of termite populations was obtained from indirect evidence of competition between colonies in Detarium, and by experimental manipulation of fire regimes in the typical guinea savanna habitat. Harvester termites increased four-five fold over two years in fire-protected plots as a result of increased food supplies. Total termite densities in the fire-protected community equilibrated to the new population density (100 mounds ha-1) after only two-three years.