Weather data
A large number of automatic weather stations has been implemented in the frame of the BIOTA AFRICA project by the Namibian National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and the Group "Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology" (BEE) of the University of Hamburg. The website offers hourly updates of data and graphs of a large number of weather parameters.



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Subproject S10

Subproject Coordination: Prof. Dr. K. Eduard Linsenmair, Lehrstuhl für Tierökologie und Tropenbiologie (Zoologie III), Biozentrum der Universität Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany

Dr. Johannes R. Henschel, Gobabeb Training & Research Centre, P.O. Box 953, Walvis Bay, Namibia

Arthropods as ecosystem engineers: the impact of ants, termites and tenebrionids on soil properties and vegetation

Ants, termites and burrowing beetles play eminent ecological key roles in most tropical and subtropical biomes. Their elimination would fundamentally change the character of their habitats. Therefore these groups are the most important ones of so called "ecosystem engineers". Some species of ants for example play a vital role in ecosystem processes as seed dispersers. Termites shape entire landscapes in the world's warm regions, particularly conspicuous in species constructing epigaeic nest mounds (in Africa mainly the Macrotermitinae). Termites but also detritivore taxa of tenebrionids (darkling beetles) play an especially prominent role in drylands, where they are conspicuous for their relatively high diversity and dominant role in ecosystem processes. Many species of termites and ants as well lead a hypogaeic life. Due to this very cryptic life these species' ecological importance has up to date most probably been greatly underestimated. For many reasons ants, termites and tenebrionids are ideal candidates as indicator organisms for the study of biodiversity changes in the course of changes of anthropogenic land use and also for the long-term changes of global climate change. First of all they often form narrow niches in regard to all relevant parameters (nutrition, microclimate, habitat structure, etc.). Secondly the essentially sessile way of life and their low mobility compared to other animal groups guarantees a tighter habitat connection.

Our goal is to study the biodiversity of ants, termites and tenebrionids along a climatic gradient and for different land use systems in Namibia. We want to investigate their impact on soil properties and vegetation to test their suitability as indicator organisms.

This project is strongly linked with the subproject W06 in West Africa. Because the same methods will be used, it will be possible to compare our results with those of W06, WP06.1.

Workpackages:  WP1  WP2