VAESSEN T, VERWER C, DEMIES M, KALIANG H & VAN DER MEER PJ. 2011. Comparison of termite assemblages along a landuse gradient on peat areas in Sarawak, Malaysia. In this study we assessed the species density and relative abundance of termites in peat land in Sarawak, Malaysia. Termites were sampled in near-natural peat swamp forest, logged-over peat swamp forest, young oil palm plantation and a cleared and burned site. Species density and relative abundance were calculated for each site. Both species density and relative abundance differed significantly between sites. Near-natural peat swamp forest had the highest termite density, followed by logged-over peat swamp forest, young oil palm plantation and the cleared site. In contrast, the relative abundance of termites was highest in the young oil palm plantation due to the omnipresent genus Schedorhinotermes. Most of the species found in the cleared site and young oil palm plantation did not occur at the other sites. We conclude that ongoing forest degradation and conversion in tropical peat land result in shifting termite assemblages and declining species density. Species that originally occur at low densities in peat swamp forests are typically lost as a result of peat swamp forest conversion.
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