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Identification of Termite Species by the Hydrocarbons in their FecesAuthor(s): Michael I. Haverty; R. Joseph Woodrow; Lori J. Nelson; J. Kenneth Grace
Source: Journal of Chemical Ecology. 31(9): 2119-2151
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
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DescriptionBlends of abundant cuticular hydrocarbons are species-specific for termites (Isoptera) and can be used to identify a given taxon without the diagnostic castes, soldiers or adults. We demonstrate that hydrocarbon extracts of termite fecal pellets from damaged wood can also be characterized and used to identify termites responsible for damage, even though termites are no longer present or easily recovered. In structures infested by drywood termites, it is common to find fecal pellets, but difficult to extract termites from the finished wood in service. Nine species belonging to two families (Kalotermitidae and Termopsidae) were examined to compare the hydrocarbon composition of termites and their fecal pellets. Diversity was extensive: at least one half of the amount of the hydrocarbons from Neotermes connexus, Incisitermes immigrans, Cryptotermes brevis, Cryptotermes cynocephalus, Procryptotermes corniceps, and Zootermopsis nevadensis nuttingi was olefins. Incisitermes minor and Pterotermes occidentis incorporated only small amounts of olefins in cuticular hydrocarbons; Marginitermes hubbardi had no detectable olefins. Hydrocarbons extracted from fecal pellets were qualitatively and quantitatively similar to cuticular extracts and can be used to determine the termite species responsible without the termites present.
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CitationHaverty, Michael I.; Woodrow, R. Joseph; Nelson, Lori J.; Grace, J. Kenneth. 2005. Identification of Termite Species by the Hydrocarbons in their Feces. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 31(9): 2119-2151.
KeywordsChemotaxonomy, cuticular hydrocarbons, dampwood termites, drywood termites, fecal pellets, frass, Kalotermitidae, Isoptera, species identification, Termopsidae
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