The influence of the mound-building termite (<I>Macrotermes bellicosus</I>) on soil clay mineralogy
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The present study aimed to examine the influence of termites (Isoptera) on soil clay mineralogy. To this end, we analyzed the clay mineralogy in the mound structures of <I>Macrotermes bellicosus</I> (Macrotermitinae) and in the adjacent natural (termite-free) soil horizons along an inland valley toposequence in central Nigeria, and compared them using differential X-ray diffraction approach. The results indicated that: (i) <I>M. bellicosus</I> modified soil clay mineralogy to minor extent regardless of the substantial enrichment of clay particles in the mound structures; (ii) the mound structures generally had a decreased abundance of quartz balanced with an increased abundance of phyllosilicate minerals such as smectite and/or kaolinite when compared with the adjacent near-surface (Ap2) horizons; and (iii) there was a subtle difference in clay mineralogy between the mound wall and the hive in spite of a large disparity in particle-size distribution. These findings suggest that soil clay mineralogy is not linked to the ecological requirements of <I>M. bellicosus</I> and the apparent change in the clay mineralogy in mound structures is caused by the preferential selection of fine soil particles during the mound construction rather than by a preference among clay mineral species.
Tropics 22(4), 169-177, 2014
JAPAN SOCIETY OF TROPICAL ECOLOGY