Termite Feeding on Aspen and Pine Stakes on a High Elevation Sagebrush-Steppe Rangeland in Southeastern Idaho

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


An indigenous subterranean termite, Reticulitermes tibialis Banks, fed on quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) stakes in prescribed burn and non-burned field plots on an established sagebrush-steppe rangeland restoration study site on Red Mountain, southeastern Idaho, expanding the known distribution of the 'arid-land subterranean termite' species. Aspen and pine stakes in the plots as part of a 5-year wood-decay study were unexpectedly damaged by termites. Groups of 25, 15-cm-long stakes were placed horizontally on the soil surface, and groups of 25, 20-cm-long stakes were vertically inserted to a depth of 20 cm into the soil. Aspen stakes were more damaged by feeding termites than were pine stakes. Stakes inserted into soil sustained greater termite feeding and decay damage compared with stakes on the soil surface. During the first 4 years of the study, wood mass loss caused by termite feeding on stakes exceeded loss from decay. Losses from termite feeding and microbial decay were similar by the 5thyear. Differences in termite feeding damage on aspen stakes were compared with pine stakes in prescribed burn and non-burned plots. Stakes in prescribed burn plots had more mass loss than those in non-burned plots.

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Southwestern Entomologist