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Termites are detritivores, consuming dead plants in any level of decomposition. They also play a very important role in the ecosystem by recycling waste material such as dead wood, faeces and plants.8182 Many species eat cellulose, having a specialised midgut that breaks down the fiber.83 Termites are considered to be a major source (11 percent ) of atmospheric methane, one of the prime greenhouse gases, generated from the breakdown of cellulose.84 Termites rely primarily upon symbiotic protozoa (metamonads) and other microbes such as flagellate protists in their bowels to digest the cellulose for them, allowing them to absorb the end products to their own use.8586 Gut protozoa, for example Trichonympha, in turn, rely on symbiotic bacteria embedded on their surfaces to create some of the necessary intestinal enzymes.
The flagellates have been dropped in Termitidae.878889 Scientists' understanding of the relationship between the termite digestive tract and the microbial endosymbionts remains rudimentary; what's true in most termite species, however, is that the employees feed the different members of the colony together with substances derived from the digestion of plant material, either from the mouth or anus.54 Judging from closely related bacterial species, it's strongly assumed the termites' and cockroach's gut microbiota derives from their dictyopteran ancestors.90.
Certain species such as Gnathamitermes tubiformans have seasonal food customs. By way of instance, they might preferentially consume Red three-awn (Aristida longiseta) during the summer, Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides) from May to August, and blue grama Bouteloua gracilis during spring, summer and autumn. Colonies of G. tubiformans consume less food in spring than they do during autumn when their feeding activity is high.91.
Numerous woods differ in their susceptibility to termite attack; the differences are attributed to these factors as moisture content, hardness, and resin and lignin content. In one study, the drywood termite Cryptotermes brevis strongly preferred poplar and walnut forests to other woods that were generally rejected from the termite colony.
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Some species of termite practice fungiculture. They maintain a"garden" of specialised fungi of genus Termitomyces, that can be nourished by the excrement of the insects. When the fungi are eaten, their spores pass undamaged through the intestines of the termites to finish the cycle by germinating in the fresh faecal pellets.9394 Molecular evidence suggests that the family Macrotermitinae developed agriculture roughly 31 million official source decades back.
Originally living in the rainforest, fungus farming allowed them to colonise the African savannah and other new environments, eventually expanding into Asia.95.
Depending on their feeding habits, termites are placed into two groups: the lower termites and higher termites. The lower termites predominately feed on wood. As wood is difficult to digest, termites want to consume fungus-infected timber because it is easier to digest and the fungi are high in protein. Meanwhile, the bigger termites consume a vast array of substances, their explanation including faeces, humus, bud, leaves and roots.96 The intestine in the lower weeds contains many species of bacteria along with protozoa, while the greater termites only have a few species of bacteria with no protozoa.97.
Termites are consumed by a vast array of predators. One termite species alone, Hodotermes mossambicus, has been found in the stomach contents of 65 birds and 19 mammals.98 Arthropods such as ants,99100 centipedes, cockroaches, crickets, dragonflies, scorpions and spiders,101 reptiles such as lizards,102 and amphibians such as frogs103 and toads consume termites, with two spiders in the family Ammoxenidae being specialist termite predators.104106 Other predators include aardvarks, aardwolves, anteaters, bats, bears, bilbies, many birds, echidnas, foxes, galagos, numbats, mice and pangolins.104107108109 The aardwolf is an insectivorous mammal that primarily feeds on termites; it locates its food by sound and by detecting the scent secreted from the soldiers; a single aardwolf is capable of consuming thousands of termites in a single night by using its long, sticky tongue.110111 Sloth bears break open mounds to consume the nestmates, while chimpanzees have developed tools to"fish" termites from their nest.
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Among most predators, ants are the best enemy to termites.99100 Some ant genera are specialist predators of termites. By way of instance, Megaponera is a rigorously termite-eating (termitophagous) genus that perform raiding actions, some lasting several hours.113114 Paltothyreus tarsatus is another termite-raiding species, together with every individual stacking as many fleas as possible in its mandibles before returning home, all of the while recruiting additional nestmates into the raiding website through chemical trails.99 The Malaysian basicerotine ants Eurhopalothrix heliscata utilizes a different approach of termite hunting by pressing themselves into tight spaces, as they hunt through rotting wood housing termite colonies.
A scout recruits 1030 employees to an area where termites are present, killing them by immobilising them using their stinger.115 Centromyrmex and Iridomyrmex colonies sometimes nest in termite mounds, and so the termites are preyed on by those ants. No evidence for any kind of relationship (other than the usual predatory one) is known.116117 Other ants, including Acanthostichus, Camponotus, Crematogaster, Cylindromyrmex, Leptogenys, Odontomachus, Ophthalmopone, Pachycondyla, Rhytidoponera, Solenopsis and Wasmannia, also prey on termites.10799118 In contrast to each of these ant species, and despite their enormous diversity of prey, Dorylus ants rarely consume termites.119.