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Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services$
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Diana H. Wall, Richard D. Bardgett, Valerie Behan-Pelletier, Jeffrey E. Herrick, T. Hefin Jones, Karl Ritz, Johan Six, Donald R. Strong, and Wim H. van der Putten

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199575923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575923.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 25 October 2021

Ecosystem Influences of Fungus-Growing Termites in the Dry Paleotropics

Ecosystem Influences of Fungus-Growing Termites in the Dry Paleotropics

(p.173) Chapter 3.4 Ecosystem Influences of Fungus-Growing Termites in the Dry Paleotropics
Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services

Gregor W. Schuurman

Oxford University Press

Macrotermitinae are a sub-family of termites known for their digestive mutualism with a monophyletic group of basidiomycetes or white-rot-fungi (Termitomyces spp.). This fungus-growing strategy has enabled macrotermitines to dominate soil faunas of the dry paleotropics and exert strong influences on ecosystem functions and attributes. Macrotermitines' digestive exosymbioses with aerobic fungi allow the breakdown of lignin, making cellulose more accessible and digestible. This chapter explains how macrotermitine fungus-growing accelerates the decomposition and transfer of nutrients and energy to the wider food web. It discusses macrotermitines' short-term beneficial ecosystem services along with longer-term influences of mound and subterranean tunnel network construction. By creating their own microhabitat, macrotermitines transform the soils and create resource hotspots for other organisms. Finally, macrotermitines' ecological and social effects are examined in the context of changing environmental influences such as climate change and land use.

Keywords:   basidiomycete, biogeography, decomposition, ecosystem engineers, ecosystem function, fungal exosymbiont, keystone species, Macrotermitinae, resource hotspots, white rot fungus

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