Termite sensitivity to temperature affects global wood decay rates

Amy E. Zanne, Habacuc Flores-Moreno, Jeff R. Powell, William K. Cornwell, James W. Dalling, Amy T. Austin, Aimée T. Classen, Paul Eggleton, Kei Ichi Okada, Catherine L. Parr, E. Carol Adair, Stephen Adu-Bredu, Md Azharul Alam, Carolina Alvarez-Garzón, Deborah Apgaua, Roxana Aragón, Marcelo Ardon, Stefan K. Arndt, Louise A. Ashton, Nicholas A. BarberJacques Beauchêne, Matty P. Berg, Jason Beringer, Matthias M. Boer, José Antonio Bonet, Katherine Bunney, Tynan J. Burkhardt, Dulcinéia Carvalho, Dennis Castillo-Figueroa, Lucas A. Cernusak, Alexander W. Cheesman, Tainá M. Cirne-Silva, Jamie R. Cleverly, Johannes H.C. Cornelissen, Timothy J. Curran, André M. D’Angioli, Caroline Dallstream, Nico Eisenhauer, Fidele Evouna Ondo, Alex Fajardo, Romina D. Fernandez, Astrid Ferrer, Marco A.L. Fontes, Mark L. Galatowitsch, Grizelle González, Felix Gottschall, Peter R. Grace, Elena Granda, Hannah M. Griffiths, Juan M. Posada

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Deadwood is a large global carbon store with its store size partially determined by biotic decay. Microbial wood decay rates are known to respond to changing temperature and precipitation. Termites are also important decomposers in the tropics but are less well studied. An understanding of their climate sensitivities is needed to estimate climate change effects on wood carbon pools. Using data from 133 sites spanning six continents, we found that termite wood discovery and consumption were highly sensitive to temperature (with decay increasing >6.8 times per 10°C increase in temperature)—even more so than microbes. Termite decay effects were greatest in tropical seasonal forests, tropical savannas, and subtropical deserts. With tropicalization (i.e., warming shifts to tropical climates), termite wood decay will likely increase as termites access more of Earth’s surface.

Translated title of the contributionLa sensibilidad de las termitas a la temperatura afecta las tasas globales de descomposición de la madera
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1440-1444
Number of pages5
Issue number6613
StatePublished - Sep 23 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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