Termite research

Termites are eusocial insects that feed mainly on dead plant material. They play a key role in tropical ecosystem function especially in soil nutrient cycling.

Some immature termites.

Termites help to decompose nutrients back to a useable form for plants.

The termite diversity anomaly refers to evidence that termites in African rain forests have a much higher functional diversity than in other rain forests and tropical habitats.

To examine this anomaly more fully, we are undertaking a detailed analysis of termite attributes known as ‘functional traits’.  

Testing the theory 

Results have shown that the anomaly is more pronounced than originally thought with a much higher number of functional groups present in soil-feeding termites in African rainforests.

These studies pave the way for new research on the role of termites in nutrient cycling. 

Project leader

Glossary 

Functional diversity
The number of functional roles represented in an ecosystem. it is debated that Functional Diversity may be the best way to assess biodiversity. 

Nutrient Cycle (soil)
The process by which nutrients are converted  from dead plant and animal material, back to living plants by both biological and non-biological processes in the soil. Nutrient availability can greatly affect the rate of key ecosystem processes.