Effects of termites growth on litter decomposition: a modeling approach

Authors

1 WASCAL Graduate Research Program on Climate Change and Biodiversity, Université Félix Houphouet Boigny, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

2 Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger, Niamey, Niger

3 Université Nangui Abrogoua, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

4 Univesité de Diffa, Diffa, Niger

Abstract

Purpose Litter decomposition is a biological process resulting from enzymatic activities of microorganisms and influenced in a variety of ways by activities of termites in semi-arid regions. We presented a general model of the decomposition process from litter to carbon sequestration and nitrogen. We aimed at building a termite population growth model which could deal with one substrate.
Methods Our model divides the decomposition/growth process at the population level. We put these changes into equations using an analogy with chemical reactions at equilibrium.
Results Our findings provide evidence that activities of termites can promote the significant activity of microbial decomposers and increase degradation rates of soil organic matter (SOM). Also, termite activity was probably an additional contributor to the difference between fungus-comb chamber and soil environment, in which the fungus-comb compartment was positively related to carbon and nutrients release. According to the developed, observed differences in decomposition rate, changes were strongly affected by the termite communities’ activities in the two types of compartment.
Conclusion This functional distinction highlights the importance of termites’ activities on microbial activities stimulation through their development featuring their impacts on soil nutrient cycling.

Keywords