Termite Role in Soil Nutrient Cycling in Ironstone Rupestrian Grasslands (Canga) in Carajás, Brazilian Amazonia

  • Carlos Ernesto G. R. Schaefer
  • Alessandra Marins
  • Guilherme Resende Corrêa
  • Og deSouza
  • Jaquelina Alves Nunes


Termites are key organisms in tropical soil processes, accounting for a marked role in pedobioturbation and nutrient cycling. We report on the mound-building termite effects across a representative soil/vegetation gradient in Ironstone Rupestrian Grassland (canga) in Carajás, Brazilian Amazonia. This complex is formed by three main different environments: Grassland, Low forest and Tall forest. The chemical composition of termite mounds was compared with adjacent soil in all environments; also the termite species richness and abundance were estimated. Termite richness varied across the Ironstone Rupestrian Grassland complex: 24 genera in Tall forest >18 genera in Low forest >9 genera in Grassland. Termite activity significantly increased the concentration of organic matter, available P and exchangeable Ca, K, N, Mg in the soil. Mound-building termites comprised 70 % of termite species in Grassland decreasing to 40 % in deeper forested soils. The chemical improvements resulting from mound-building termite activities were relatively more relevant to Grassland compared with Forests. Mound-building termites are key organisms in structuring the Ironstone Rupestrian Grassland complex in Amazonian ironstone.


Cation Exchange Capacity Shallow Soil Termite Mound Termite Species Adjacent Soil 
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To Vale S.A. (CVRD) for the logistic support. Research project funding by The State Funding Agency of Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) (Project: Geodiversidade dos Ambientes de Canga na Região de Carajás, PA, Brasil). AM post-doctoral grant is held by National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq 150255/2015-2). ODS holds a CNPq Fellowship (305736/2013-2).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Ernesto G. R. Schaefer
    • 1
  • Alessandra Marins
    • 1
  • Guilherme Resende Corrêa
    • 2
  • Og deSouza
    • 3
  • Jaquelina Alves Nunes
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de SolosUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Geografia da Universidade Federal de UberlandiaUberlandiaBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de EntomologiaUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  4. 4.Unidade Carangola, Praça dos EstudantesUniversidade do Estado de Minas Gerais (UEMG)CarangolaBrazil

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