Trophic controls delaying foraging by termites: reasons for the ground being brown?

O. DeSouza, A.P.A. Araújo, R. Reis-Jr
2009 Bulletin of entomological research  
Why is the ground brown, when detritivores and decomposers have the numbers and ability to speed up the turnover of dark-coloured soil organic carbon? We consider this soil analogue to the 'green world' hypothesis measuring in the field how fast termites occupied cellulosic baits of varying quantity and quality and how predation risks by ants affect such encounters. Single baits with ants were occupied by termites later than triple baits without ants, implying that termites may spend longer
more » ... ching for suitable food than feeding on it, thereby delaying decomposition rates of both chosen and neglected items. Because termites' feeding speeds up dissimilation of polymers by decomposers, such results may imply that bottom-up and top-down forces, ultimately, impair carbon processing and release from soil. We argue that the ground is brown partly because of delays imposed upon termites' use of resources by bottom-up and topdown forces.
doi:10.1017/s000748530900666x pmid:19302722 fatcat:jftkbtvbejgktex2fs4pbbodjq