Synthesis Of Termite Studies Conducted In The Nakasongola Ecosystem In Uganda
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Consumption of large quantities of grass biomass by termites is a major constraint to livestock production in the rangelands of Nakasongola. Development of appropriate termite management interventions in such ecosystems requires a holistic approach that considers both social and ecological factors which influence termite damage on rangeland vegetation. We undertook a comprehensive review and linked findings from parallel studies in the area. The review revealed that the termite assemblages in semi-arid Nakasongola consisted of sixteen species from one family (Termitidae), three sub-families (Macrotermitinae, Termitinae and Nasutitermitinae) and eight genera (Macrotermes, Odontotermes, Microtermes, Pseudocanthotermes, Cubitermes, Procubitermes, Trinervitermes and Ancistrotermes). Species from the sub-family Macrotermitinae constituted 69% of the total number of species sampled. All the species belonged to group I (true soil feeders) and group II (Wood, litter and grass feeders) feeding groups. Group II species dominated the assemblages comprising of 75% of the total species. There was a significant difference (P>0.0001) among farmers’ ranking of factors enhancing termite damage on rangeland vegetation. Overgrazing and deforestation were ranked significantly higher than other factors. The farmers’ perceptions were supported by results from foraging trials that revealed that foraging intensity was highest (over 90%) and lowest (≤ 45%) in areas with sparse and adequate basal herbaceous vegetation cover respectively. The results of the review revealed that termite species in Nakasongola ecosystem are largely litter feeders and only resort to grass biomass once inappropriate rangeland management techniques such overgrazing and deforestation deprive the species of adequate litter for their nourishment.