Projects

Phylogeography of the Heterotermes tenuis (Hagen, 1858) species complex (Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae)

The genus Heterotermes comprises 50 described species in the world. Nine of these occur in the Neotropical region, being Heterotermes tenuis (Hagen, 1858) the species with the widest distribution: occurring from south Mexico to North of Argentina, besides the Bahamas and Antilles. Until 1924, H. tenuis was the only know species from South America. Until today, although other species are known, this species probably still being a species complex. During my doctoral thesis, intending to test if the Madeira River is a biogeographic barrier to genetic flow in H. tenuis, I found a strong genetic structure within our samples. I analyzed the mitochondrial gene COII, and all the evidences (including phylogeny, haplotype network, F statistics and K2P genetic distance) pointed to the existence of at least two morphological-cryptic species, and the divergence between them dating from approximately 20 million years, in the Miocene. However, in my doctoral thesis I used only one gene, and from few localities. So, this post-doctoral project intends to do a phylogeographical analysis of the H. tenuis complex, using both nuclear and mitochondrial genes, and comprising all its distribution. This study will help to clarify the taxonomy of the group, helping in establish limits between populations and species, besides help to understand the evolutionary and demographic history of the groups inside what we call today H. tenuis complex, and bringing ideas for the a better knowledge of the Neotropical termites as a whole.
Key words: Cryptic species; taxonomy; inter-specific limits; Neotropical Region


Study of the termite fauna from the Upper Madeira River

The Hydroelectrics (HE) of Santo Antônio and Jirau are being built in the Madeira River region, in Porto Velho, RO. The HEs’ dams will flood large portions of native forests in this region and the knowledge of the local biota and its distribution on space is extremely important for formulation of management plans for protected areas. This region in particular is unique, since the alignment of Amazonas-Madeira-Mamoré Rivers divides the Neotropical region in two areas of endemism for a diversity of taxa. This project aims to investigate the diversity of termites in order to test whether the Madeira river is also a geographical barrier for these insects. The termite monitoring programs were executed in 12 modules (six of each HE) that were direct or indirect disturbed by the HEs’ dams. Seven of these modules are in the left margin and five in the right margin of the river; together, they comprise approximately 230 km along the river. The sample design of modules follow the PPBio Program. Expeditions were performed each three months for all the modules using parcels of 2x5 m, where termites were carefully searched in all possible microhabitats by one man/hour.


Wikitermes

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Wikitermes is a collaborative website about termites.

The main objective is to put together informations about termites, in addition to:

- Information exchange among termitologists;
- Links to websites from researchers and research laboratories of termites;
- Links to social networks of termite researchers;
- Groups of bibliographic reference compilations in Mendeley and Dropbox;
- Links to catalogues of termites;
- and more.

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