Studies on a population of large termite mounds in Uganda
Department of Zoology, Kenyatta University College, PO Box 43844, Nairobi, Kenya.
- 1Two study-sites near Kampala were mapped and all of the termite mounds within them were measured. Changes were recorded in the three succeeding years. A method was developed for estimating mound volumes from height and diameter.
- 2Macrotermes bellicosus mounds reached a volume of about 2.4 m3 in 3 years after which they grew more slowly to a maximum from 4 to 6 m3. Growth in volume during the first 3 years was approximately linear and its rate did not vary seasonally, probably because growth is related to temperature which was nearly constant throughout the year.
- 3M.bellicosus mounds had an average length of life of about 10 years, although colonies survived on average only 4 years. The corresponding figures for Pseudacanthotermes spp. were 5 and 2 1/2 years. Some mounds were recolonized after the death of the original colony.
- 5Fresh earth was brought up at a minimum rate of about 10 m3 ha-1 yr-1 but more was lost by erosion and destruction and the populations of mounds were decreasing.
- 4The number of ventilation shafts in M.bellicosus mounds increased with the volume of the mound. Many mounds, both dead and alive, supported vegetation.
- 6Local opinion is that Pseudacanthotermes are harmless but M.bellicosus is regarded as a pest and attempts are made to destroy its mounds.