Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

p. 281-288

Termite assemblages (Blattodea: Isoptera) in a habitat humidity gradient in the semiarid region of northeastern Brazil

Couto, Alane A. V. OAlbuquerque, Auristela CVasconcellos, AlexandreCastro, Cibele C

We compared the termite assemblages of different ecosystems in a humidity gradient. Three areas were sampled: (i) a humid montane forest; (ii) a hillside forest where shaded coffee (Coffea arabica Linnaeus, 1753) is cultivated; (iii) a seasonally dry forest (Caatinga). Active collection protocols were employed in each area during the dry and rainy seasons. The species were grouped according to their habitats and feeding habits. A total of 45 termite species belonging to 20 genera and three families were encountered. The termite fauna of the Caatinga was as rich and abundant as that of the humid forest areas, but it was distinct from it in species composition. Most termite species encountered in the montane forest were also found in the agro-ecological site, but some species were only found in the latter. The termite fauna of the Caatinga varied seasonally the most, with significantly reduced abundance during the dry period. When species richness, abundance, and species composition were considered together the climatic seasons were not found to significantly affect the termite faunas in any of the study areas. The numbers of encounters per feeding group and per habitat exploited did not differ among the different areas, or during the different seasons. Even in adjacent areas, the humidity gradient, as well as the vegetational characteristics, are reflected in differences in the termite fauna. Agro-ecological regimes can be considered viable alternatives to traditional methods of cultivation as they largely conserve the biodiversity found in non-modified environments.(AU)

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