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Food Preferences and Foraging Strategies of Wood-Feeding Termites in a West African Savanna

Abstract : The feeding preferences of termites in a Guinean savanna (Lamto, Côte d’Ivoire) were studied in the field to better understand the incidence of termite damages observed on adult trees, which, on interaction with fire, affect the dynamics of the tree community. Two separate multiple-choice test experiments were conducted on the six dominant tree species, aiming at determining preferences for the species and for wood conditions naturally encountered and likely to affect termite consumption behaviour. The preferences of termites were determined by their occurrence on standard-sized wood pieces and their behaviour during the first attack. Two fungus-growing termites, Ancistrotermes and Microtermes were frequently encountered on wood pieces, whereas wood feeders were absent. The two genera have different preferences, and they do not compete for the same food. Wood density and water content did not explain termite preference. Holes in the bark seem to facilitate termite entry into pieces of wood, whereas the action of fire on wood apparently makes it less attractive to termites. In the field, the decision by termites to forage on a given tree species seems to be more driven by habitat and accessibility differences than real food quality differences.
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A. N’dri, J. Gignoux, S. Konaté. Food Preferences and Foraging Strategies of Wood-Feeding Termites in a West African Savanna. Current Science, Indian Academy of Sciences, 2018, 114 (01), pp.186. ⟨10.18520/cs/v114/i01/186-192⟩. ⟨hal-02388766⟩

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