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Suitability of multiple Mediterranean oak species as a food resource for Reticulitermes grassei Clément (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)

  • A.M. Cárdenas (a1), P. Gallardo (a1) and D. Toledo (a1)

The subterranean termite Reticulitermes grassei Clément causes lesions in the trunk of Quercus suber L. by constructing feeding galleries, but no information is available regarding other Quercus species from the Mediterranean region. This work aimed to study the suitability of the other main oak species of Mediterranean forests as a food resource for R. grassei. Two experiments, choice and non-choice feeding, were conducted lasting for 15, 30, and 45 days each. In the non-choice experiment, termites were offered one of the following food types: Quercus suber, Quercus ilex L., Quercus faginea Lam, cork or Pinus pinea L., which was considered the control. The choice feeding experiment used all the same food types listed above, supplied simultaneously in the same container. Food selection was examined by analysing the relationships over time between surviving termites and food consumption. The results indicated that R. grassei could be considered a generalist species, as it consumed the cork and wood of all oak species, as well as displaying a clear preference for soft wood (pine). Correlation analysis indicated that consumption was not dependent on wood density. Survival of R. grassei was influenced by the time of exposure to different oak species, but a high survival rate was maintained over time in the pine treatment (upper 70% in the three experiments). Given these results, it can be concluded that all the oak species are a suitable food source for R. grassei.

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