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Termites mitigate the effects of drought in tropical rainforest

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Science  11 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6423, pp. 174-177
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau9565

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Forest termites mitigate the effects of drought

In many tropical regions, where drought is predicted to become more frequent in the coming years, termites are key components of ecosystem function. Ashton et al. experimentally manipulated termite communities to quantify their role during the 2015–2016 “super El Niño” drought in a Malaysian tropical rainforest. Termite relative abundance more than doubled in control plots during drought, maintaining three major ecosystem processes: decomposition, nutrient heterogeneity, and moisture retention. Seedling mortality increased where termites were suppressed.

Science, this issue p. 174