Stabilities of ant nests and their adjacent soils
B.C. Echezona 1
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Department of Crop Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
Department of Soil Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
Int. Agrophys. 2012, 26(4): 355–363
Nests habour ants and termites and protect them from harsh environmental conditions. The structural stabilities of nests were studied to ascertain their relative vulnerability to environmental stresses. Arboreal-ant nests were pried from different trees, while epigeous-termite nests were excavated from soil surface within the sample area. Soils without any visible sign of ant or termite activity were also sampled 6 m away from the nests as control. Laboratory analysis result showed that irrespective of the tree hosts, the aggregate stabilities of the ant nests were lower than those of the ground termite, with nests formed on Cola nitida significantly showing lower aggregate stability (19.7%) than other antnest structures. Clay dispersion ratio, moisture content, water stable aggregate class <0.25mm and sand mass were each negatively correlated with aggregate stability, while water stable aggregate class 1.00-0.50 mm gave a positive correlation. Nest structures were dominated more by water stable aggregate class >2.00 mm but path analysis demonstrated that water stable aggregate class <0.25 mm contributed most to the higher aggregate stability of the termite nest than the other nest. Nest aggregates had greater structural stability compared to the control soil. The higher structural stability of termite nests over other nest and soil was considered a better adaptive mechanism against body desiccation.