Termites as indicators of soil ecosystem services in transformed amazon landscapes uri icon

abstract

  • Termite communities reflect soil conditions and the condition of the ecosystem services that they provide. The present study first evaluated the relationship between termite communities and soil conditions in a wide range of land use systems in deforested areas in the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon. Then, we identified termite indicator species for the ecosystem service levels provided by them. Termites were collected on 38 farms in both countries (12 in Colombia and 26 in Peru) at 190 sampling points (five per farm). Eight types of plant cover were identified: natural forests, secondary vegetation, agroforestry systems, sylvopastoral systems, perennial and annual crops, degraded and wooded pastures. Variables representing chemical fertility, hydrological functions of the soil, soil macro-aggregation and macroinvertebrate communities respectively, were measured at each point. Then, four synthetic indicators of ecosystem services were designed, respectively, based on this information. Termite indicator species for soil ecosystem services were searched for using the index value indicator method (IndVal). Among the 48 species collected (12 in Colombia, 45 in Peru and nine in common), 11 were identified as indicator species. Two indicator species were found in Colombia: one for chemical fertility and one for state of soil macro-aggregation. No indicator species were registered for hydrological soil functions and macroinvertebrate community biodiversity. In Peru, nine species were statistically significant indicators: four for chemical fertility, one for soil macro-aggregation, six for macroinvertebrate community biodiversity, two for hydrological soil functions, and four species were indicators for more than one service. This study presents significant evidence of the negative effects of degrading changes in land use on the abundance and richness of termite communities. The indicator ability demonstrated by termite species makes them a valuable monitoring tool. Their absence or presence can opportunely indicate the negative effects of certain management practices on soil ecosystem services. It can also indicate progress in soil restoration processes.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020