WOOD CONSUMPTION BY Heterotermes sulcatus (ISOPTERA: RHINOTERMITIDAE) IN A CAATINGA ECOSYSTEM, NORTHEASTERN BRAZIL.
Keywords:Termites, food preference, natural environment, wood cycling, mortality rate.
Heterotermes sulcatus is a subterranean termite recorded in the Cerrado as well as in the Caatinga, but it may be also found in urban areas of Brazilian northeast. This study aimed to assess wood consumption and food preference of H. sulcatus for four species - Aspidosperma pyrifolium, Caesalpinia pyramidalis, Croton rhamnifolioides and Prosopis juliflora. Wood consumption was estimated through bioassays in which pieces of wood of the four plant species studied were offered to the termites inside plastic containers. Food consumption was assessed by quantifying wood biomass loss. Total food consumption for the four wood species was 78mg of dry wood. living termite g-1.day-1. Regarding the preference for the wood species studied, there was a significant preference for P. juliflora, in spite of H. sulcatus being a generalist species in its natural environment.