Mound building termites contribute to savanna vegetation heterogeneity- woody plants, forbs and graminoids

Latest version published by Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) on Dec 13, 2019 Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
Publication date:
13 December 2019
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With biomass densities comparable to large ungulates and megaherbivores, termites play a key functional role in many tropical savanna ecosystems. This study focuses on vegetated termite mounds (termitaria) constructed by the Termitidae species Macrotermes herus. We studied how resource rich termitaria affect graminoid herbs (Poaceae and Cyperaceae), forbs and woody species composition and diversity. The density of termitaria explained 89% of the variation in dense thickets in the area. Fire tolerant Acacia species dominated the open savanna while fire sensitive species like Grewia spp. and the succulent Euphorbia candelabrum were restricted to termite mounds. Termitaria plots had four times the mean number of woody species and supported three times as many forb species as the adjacent savanna. For woody species, both the Shannon–Wiener index and the Shannon evenness index were higher on temitaria than on the savanna. There were no differences for graminoid herbs, except for the Shannon evenness index which was higher on termitaria. Our results indicate that graminoid herb richness peaks at lower productivity levels than trees and forbs in savanna ecosystems, as also recently found in temperate areas.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Moe, Stein R., Ragnhild Mobæk, and Anne Kjersti Narmo. "Mound building termites contribute to savanna vegetation heterogeneity." Norwegian University of Life sciences, NMBU


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The publisher and rights holder of this work is Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 4.0) License.

GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: d5a8d3f2-9bad-4724-b793-daf78f8bca29.  Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by GBIF Norway.


Occurrence; Observation; Biodiversity; termitaria; woody plants; forbs; graminoids


Stein R. Moe
  • Author
  • Originator
  • Point Of Contact
Mari Steinert
  • Metadata Provider
Ragnhild Mobæk
  • Author
Anne Kjersti Narmo
  • Author

Geographic Coverage

Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park

Bounding Coordinates South West [-1.977, 29.136], North East [4.39, 35.244]

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 2001-01-01 / 2004-01-01

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Moe, Stein R., Ragnhild Mobæk, and Anne Kjersti Narmo. "Mound building termites contribute to savanna vegetation heterogeneity." Plant Ecology 202.1 (2009): 31.

Additional Metadata

Alternative Identifiers d5a8d3f2-9bad-4724-b793-daf78f8bca29