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Miombo dry deciduous forests are diverse ecosytems stretching across large parts of Africa. Termites are the dominant ecosystem engineers in these forests. Especially, gigantic mounds of Macrotermes termites dominate the landscape. They build some of the largest (~8 m high, ~15 m wide) and oldest nesting structures. By their construction and feeding behaviors, these primary soil engineers significantly influence the distribution of natural resources like clays and soil organic matter. However, miombo forests in the South of DR Congo face mounting challenges due to a combination of factors, including a growing population, intensified mining activities, and expanding agricultural practices.over the past 20-25 years. This has led to increasing deforestation and forest degradation in this region. Carbonization and slash-and-burn agriculture are the main causes of deforestation in this ecoregion. 

In this VLIR-UOS project (lead by Pascal Boeckx, Ugent) together with the University of Lubumbashi, we assess the spatial organization and assembly of termite communities and compare their functioning along a gradient of forest recovery in Katanga, Congo (from freshly deforested fields to pristine miombo forest. Although the main focus is on termites, we will also sample termitophiles along the recovery gradient.


Macrotermes foragers returning to their nest

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