Termites mitigate the effects of drought in tropical rainforest

By Lily Ng
Jan 11th 2019

L. A. AshtonH. M. GriffithsC. L. ParrT. A. Evans, R. K. Didham, F. Hasan, Y. A. Teh, H. S. Tin, C. S. Vairappan, P. Eggleton

In many tropical regions, where drought is predicted to become more frequent in the coming years, termites are key components of ecosystem function. Ashton et al. experimentally manipulated termite communities to quantify their role during the 2015–2016 “super El Niño” drought in a Malaysian tropical rainforest. Termite relative abundance more than doubled in control plots during drought, maintaining three major ecosystem processes: decomposition, nutrient heterogeneity, and moisture retention. Seedling mortality increased where termites were suppressed.

Science 11 Jan 2019:

Vol. 363, Issue 6423, pp. 174-177
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau9565


There are some news about this research study of termites:

Pacific Standard: https://psmag.com/environment/how-termites-help-forests-withstand-drought

Discover: Science for the Curious: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2019/01/10/how-termites-help-protect-tropical-rainforests-from-drought/#.XD6C0FwzaUl

AAAS: https://www.aaas.org/news/termites-protect-tropical-rainforests-during-drought

Agenparl: https://agenparl.eu/termites-mitigate-effects-of-drought-in-tropical-rainforest/

PHYS ORG: https://phys.org/news/2019-01-termites-mitigate-effects-drought-tropical.html

The English press release can be viewed at: https://www.scifac.hku.hk/press/release/press-release-termites-rainforest