Comparison of nest shapes and densities of two sympatric species of Cubitermes (Isoptera: Termitidae: Termitinae) as clues for the study of their population dynamics
Two species of Cubitermes coexist in the grassy Loudetia Savanna of Bondoé, in the Central African Republic, namely C. sankurensis (Wasmann, 1911) and C. ugandensis (Fuller, 1923) Despite the obvious size difference between individuals their nests have the same general shape but there are significant, though small, differences in height, diameter, number of caps, surface and volume. The closest correlations between these five parameters can be seen between the surface and the volume of the nests. The regressions between these two parameters are identical for both species; the addition of a first cap decreases the volume/surface ratio but a second or third cap does not alter this ratio further. Three apparent age classes have been attributed to the nests based on their external appearance: recent, eroded, and dilapidated. The great density (1297 nests/ha) and abundance of the nests that are dilapidated but still occupied by a declining population clearly suggests that the pressure from predation is weak. This study suggests that the environmental conditions are more influential than the species in shaping the mounds and tentative population dynamics of the termite mounds of Bondoé are outlined.
Key words: humivorous termites, mound density, Central Africa.