Feeding group diversity of Termites (Isoptera: Insecta) in Kerala
Amina Poovoli and Rajmohana K
Termites play an important role as decomposers in ecosystems and also as pests of structural timber and crops. This study, assessed the diversity and abundance of termites across the state of Kerala, based on the worker caste feeding groups. A total of 908 colonies were collected through random sampling representing Kalotermitidae, Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae, inclusive of all four feeding groups. The most dominant was Type II, followed by Type III, Type I and finally Type IV. Among Type II, Odontotermes Holmgren and Type III Dicuspiditermes Krishna were dominant. Much of Type I were Rhinotermitidae, mostly represented by Coptotermes Wasmann and Heterotermes Froggatt. In Kalotermitidae, Cryptotermes Banks were restricted to coastal areas and human habitations, Glyptotermes Froggatt to rainforests and Neotermes Holmgren to moist structural timber. The feeding groups differed significantly among habitats, depending on vegetation and habitat disturbances, signalling that termites can act as bioindicators of habitats.