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    Author(s): Christopher Peterson; P. D. Gerard; Terence Wagner
    Date: 2008
    Source: Netherlands Entomological Society Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Southern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (183.36 KB)


    Fire is an important part of forest ecosystems, as is the insect fauna. Changes in wood brought about by fire may alter the ability of termites to use the wood, interrupting the decay cycle of woody debris. The ability of termites to find, infest, and feed upon wood after it had been charred was evaluated in the laboratory and field. Eastern subterranean termites, Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), fed on char from burned wood had significantly reduced numbers of protozoa compared to termites fed on pine shavings, but significantly more than starved termites. The ability of termites to find and infest wood was not affected by surface charring. In a laboratory choice test, there were no significant differences in the onset of feeding by termites between charred and non-charred wood boards. Likewise in the field, no differences were observed in the time to initial attack by termites on charred and non-charred wood boards or bolts. Because termites will likely survive fires of low to moderate intensity, in most cases, there should be no disruption of the termite contribution to forest nutrient and carbon cycles.

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    Peterson, C.J., Gerard, P.D., Wagner, T. L. 2008. Charring does not affect wood infestation by subterranean termites.


    char, protozoa, fire, wood selection, Reticulitermes flavipes, Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae

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