An extremely widespread genus and an important timber pest throughout Europe, Central and West Asia and North America. It is found predominantly in forests but also occurs in Mediterranean habitats and desert fringes.
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Psammotermes occupies deserts wherever there is vegetation to feed on, and appears to replace Anacanthotermes in drier areas where both genera occur. It is the most arid-adapted termite, and occurs in areas where few other arthropods can survive. It is even recorded from deserts without vegetation where it seems to survive on wind blown accumulation of organic debris. In other parts of the true deserts Psammotermes may survive on sub-fossil relics of a humid Pleistocene fauna (e.g. trunks of Tamarix in the Sahara, Harris, 1970).
The Australian species, Porotermes adamsoni has been most closely studied. This species is found in decaying logs, as well as dead and living trees of Eucalyptus.
This genus is known commonly from soil samples from Cameroon and Congo (Brazzaville) but only within forest areas. Recorded as a soil feeding with a nest system having 9oval chambers a few centimetres in extent, connected by narrow galleries. The galleries are lined with faecal soil with a shagreened appearance. Commonly found below or penetrating into the base of mounds built by Cubitermes-group genera (e.g. Cubitermes, Thoracotermes). Group IV feeder.
Most information is known concerning M. viator (i.e. reviewed in Coaton & Sheasby, 1974), which is found mainly in scrubby vegetation types. Found in regions with rainfall 125 mm - 750 mm, and at latitudes from coastal plain to 1,675 m. The Microhodotermes of the Palaearctic are poorly known biologically.
As with other hodotermitids the timing of foraging is dependent on surface temperatures.
Mastotermes is considered to be the most phylogenetically basal (‘primitive’) of all termites (Kambhampati & Eggleton, 1999), and is placed in a family of its own (the Mastotermitidae, with a single extant species Mastotermes darwinensis), along with several fossil genera and species (see Grasse, 1985). DeSalle et al. (1992) claimed to have sequenced DNA from Mastotermes electrodominicus from 25-30 million year old amber, and thus place the extinct taxon phylogenetically in context with extant genera, but the validity of this is disputed (Austin et al., 1997).
So far found in the forests of Angola and Cameroon. Recorded as a soil feeding with a nest system having oval chambers a few centimetres in extent connected by narrow galleries. The galleries are lined with faecal soil with a shagreened appearance. Found in soil pits and under Cubitermes-group mounds. Group IV feeder.
Soldiers very distinctive, with highly inflated xxx glands [more details].
A very large bodied soil feeding termite now recorded from scattered points across the Guinea-Congolese forest block, and from one savannah area (in Congo, Kinshasa, Deligne & Pasteels 1969). An undescribed species from southern Cameroon (Eggleton et al. 1996) is the largest soil feeding termite known, and was enormously important in both biomass and energy flow terms in one plot in southern Cameroon (see Eggleton et al., 1998).
Found in rain forests within the Guinea-Congolese forest block, east of the Dahomey gap. Workings are lined with faecal material with a 'shagreened' pattern as with other genera in the Apicotermes-group. Has often been found in humus collected around tree buttresses. Closely related to Rostrotermes.
[from where?] Recorded as a soil feeding with a nest system having oval chambers a few centimetres in extent conected by narrow galleries. The galleries are lined with faeacl soil with a shagreened appearance. Specimens have been recorded from beneath or within mounds of Cubitermes in grasslad clearings within savannah woodland [check original sources for this]. Probably a Group IV feeder, but information is scant.