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The mound-building termite Macrotermes michaelseni as an ecosystem engineer

  • J.M. Dangerfield (a1), T.S. Mccarthy (a2) and W.N. Ellery (a3)
    • Published online: 01 July 1998

Many organisms create or alter resource flows that affect the composition and spatial arrangement of current and future organismal diversity. The phenomenon called ecosystem engineering is considered with a case study of the mound building termite Macrotermes michaelseni. It is argued that this species acts as an ecosystem engineer across a range of spatial scales, from alteration of local infiltration rates to the creation of landscape mosaics, and that its impacts accrue because of the initiation of biophysical processes that often include feedback mechanisms. These changes to resource flows are likely to persist for long periods and constrain the biological structure of the habitat. The value of ecosystem engineering is discussed as a holistic way of understanding the complexity of tropical ecology.

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Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
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