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Termites are detritivores, consuming dead plants in any level of decomposition. They also play a very important role in the ecosystem by recycling waste material like dead wood, faeces and plants.8182 Many species eat cellulose, having a specialised midgut that breaks down the fibre.83 Termites are considered to be a major source (11%) of atmospheric methane, one of the prime greenhouse gases, generated from the breakdown of cellulose.84 Termites rely primarily upon symbiotic protozoa (metamonads) and other germs like flagellate protists in their guts to digest the cellulose for them, allowing them to absorb the end products for their own use.8586 Gut protozoa, such as Trichonympha, in turn, rely on symbiotic bacteria embedded on their own decks to create a number of the necessary digestive enzymes.
The flagellates have been dropped in Termitidae.878889 Scientists' understanding of the relationship between the termite digestive tract and the microbial endosymbionts is still rudimentary; what's true in most termite species, however, is that the employees feed the other members of the colony with substances derived from the digestion of plant material, either in the mouth or anus.54 Judging from closely related bacterial species, it's strongly assumed the termites' and cockroach's gut microbiota derives from their dictyopteran ancestors.90.
Certain species such as Gnathamitermes tubiformans have seasonal food customs. By way of instance, they might preferentially consume Red three-awn (Aristida longiseta) during the summer, Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides) from May to August, and blue grama Bouteloua gracilis during spring, summer and autumn. Colonies of G. tubiformans consume less food in spring than they do during autumn when their feeding activity is high.91.
Various forests differ in their susceptibility to termite attack; the differences are attributed to such factors as moisture content, hardness, and resin and lignin content. In one study, the drywood termite Cryptotermes brevis strongly preferred poplar and walnut forests to other woods that were generally rejected by the termite colony.
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Some varieties of termite practice fungiculture. They maintain a"garden" of specialised fungi of genus Termitomyces, that are nourished from the excrement of the insects. When the fungi are eaten, their spores pass undamaged through the intestines of their termites to complete the cycle by germinating in the new faecal pellets.9394 Molecular evidence suggests that the family Macrotermitinae developed agriculture about 31 million decades ago.
Originally living in the rainforest, fungus farming enabled them to colonise the African savannah and other new environments, eventually expanding look at here into Asia.95.
Depending on their feeding habits, termites are put into two classes: the lower termites and higher termites. The lower termites predominately feed on timber. As wood is difficult to digest, termites want to consume fungus-infected timber since it's easier to digest and the fungi are high in protein. Meanwhile, the higher termites consume a vast array of substances, including faeces, humus, bud, leaves and roots.96 The intestine in the lower weeds contains many species of bacteria along with protozoa, while the higher termites only have a few species of bacteria with no protozoa.97.
Termites are consumed by a wide array of predators. One termite species alone, Hodotermes mossambicus, was found in the stomach contents of 65 creatures and 19 mammals.98 Arthropods like ants,99100 centipedes, cockroaches, crickets, dragonflies, scorpions and spiders,101 reptiles like lizards,102 and amphibians like frogs103 and toads consume termites, together with 2 spiders in the household Ammoxenidae being professional termite predators.104106 Other predators include aardvarks, aardwolves, anteaters, bats, bears, bilbies, many birds, echidnas, foxes, galagos, numbats, mice and pangolins.104107108109 The aardwolf is an insectivorous mammal that primarily feeds on termites; it locates its food by sound and also by detecting the scent secreted from the soldiers; a single aardwolf is effective at consuming thousands of termites in a single night by using its long, sticky tongue.110111 Sloth bears break open mounds to consume the nestmates, whereas chimpanzees have developed resources to"fish" termites in their nest.
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Among most predators, ants will be the best enemy to termites.99100 Some ant genera are specialist predators of termites. By way of instance, Megaponera is a strictly termite-eating (termitophagous) genus that perform raiding activities, some lasting several hours.113114 Paltothyreus tarsatus is another termite-raiding species, with each individual stacking as many termites as possible in its mandibles before returning home, all the while recruiting additional nestmates to the raiding site through chemical trails.99 The Malaysian basicerotine ants Eurhopalothrix heliscata uses a different strategy of termite hunting by pressing themselves into tight spaces, since they hunt through rotting wood housing termite colonies.
A scout recruits 1030 employees to an area where termites are present, killing them by immobilising them using their stinger.115 Centromyrmex and Iridomyrmex colonies occasionally nest in termite mounds, and thus the termites are preyed on by those ants. No evidence for any kind of relationship (other than the usual predatory one) is known.116117 Other ants, including Acanthostichus, Camponotus, Crematogaster, Cylindromyrmex, Leptogenys, Odontomachus, Ophthalmopone, Pachycondyla, Rhytidoponera, Solenopsis and Wasmannia, also prey on termites.10799118 In contrast to all these ant species, and despite their enormous diversity of prey, Dorylus ants rarely consume termites.119.