Land use effects on termite assemblages in Kenya
Kanyi, Nahashon Chege
Karuri, Hannah W.
Nyasani, Johnson O.
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Termites perform key ecological functions and they also cause crop damage. Land use change resulting from agricultural intensiﬁcation can result in changes in termite species diversity and abundance. Termite species occurring in natural vegetation, maize monocrop and maize-beans intercrop macrohabitats were investigated in Embu and Machakos Counties, Kenya. Inﬂuence of soil properties and seasons was also evaluated. Across the two Counties, seven termite species were recorded with Machakos County having the highest number. Additive diversity partitioning of species richness and Simpson diversity showed that, α component contributed to 98.3% and 99.1% of the total diversity, respectively. Population densities of three termite species signiﬁcantly varied between land use types in Machakos County but there were no differences in termite species abundance in Embu County. In addition, there were no signiﬁcant differences in species richness between macrohabitats within each County. In Embu, season signiﬁcantly inﬂuenced the abundance of Macrotermes subhyalinus, M. herus, and Coptotermes formosanus which occurred in greater numbers during the wet season. There was a signiﬁcant inﬂuence of land use on Trinervitermes gratiosus and C. formosanus in Machakos with both species occurring in higher numbers in natural vegetation. Trinervitermes gratiosus was negatively associated with Mn and positively correlated to pH and sand. Macrotermes subhyalinus and M. herus showed a positive association with P and silt while C. formosanus was positively correlated to Ca and Mg. These ﬁndings provide an insight into the effects of land use change from natural vegetation to maize agro-ecosystems on termite diversity. It also provides a baseline for further studies on termite diversity in Kenya and their ecological signiﬁcance.