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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592
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Durability and Wood Protection Research

Project Title :  Termites play dual roles as wood decomposers both benefiting forest health and causing destruction of in-service wood
Project Number : FPL-4723-2A
Status : NEW
Start Date : 01-23-2015
End Date : 01-22-2020


View the 29 publications associated with this project.

Principal Investigator:
Carol A. Clausen

Non Technical Summary
PhotoConditions regulating native subterranean termites in natural habitats are poorly understood. As primary wood decomposers, termites contribute to nutrient cycling, soil fertility and stability, and forest productivity, so alterations to ecosystems from climate change is critical. Research is needed to investigate the biological, ecological, and physical parameters associated with the diversity and distribution of termites in forest ecosystems. Research on the temporal and spatial effects of sub-lethal doses of termiticides on foraging behavior and termite physiology is needed. Likewise, the distribution and fate of termiticides in soil may be intimately linked to termite control failures and means of prevention. If we can understand the role of symbiotic microbiota of termites in regulating colony health, that information might elucidate factors that allow some termite species to survive control measures. Research findings may point to a specific microbial metabolite from termite gut microorganisms that can be used to develop targeted and integrated pest control methods.Repair costs associated with structural damage caused by termites and protection measures to prevent termite damage are estimated to be $10 billion annually in the U.S. Economic losses resulting from the northward spread of termites are projected to grow as a result of changes in climate, underscoring the importance of protecting structural building components from this pest through the development of environmentally safe and effective biocides and targeted baiting techniques.


Objectives Summary
The objectives of this problem area are to study are to the role of termites in forest ecosystems as wood decomposers and how they contribute to nutrient cycling, soil fertility and stability, and forest productivity and how it relates to ecosystem alterations from climate change. Changes in climate have already altered the northern limit for recorded damage by subterranean termites resulting in obvious increases in the geographic area where wood structures are susceptible to infestation and damage. Prescriptive best building practices and mandatory preservative treatments for protection of building envelopes from termite damage would help address this problem. New ranges need to be established, mapped and monitored. Improved treatments and methodology that deals with logistical issues for targeted treatments could dramatically change the pest control industry, including bait, barrier and termiticide applications.


Approach Summary
Gaining an understanding of the habitat requirements supporting different termite species will serve as a platform for more complex studies on termite colony, population and community dynamics. Results from ecological studies will serve as the foundation for development and implementation of improved integrated treatment strategies directed against termites.

Publications associated with this Project

Publication YearTitleDate Posted
2017Analysis of hindgut bacterial phyla frequency and diversity in subterranean termites exposed to chitosan-treated wood08/23/17
2016Antimicrobial activity of actinobacteria isolated from the guts of subterranean termites10/04/16
2016Antitermitic Activities of Shisham (Dalbergia Sissoo Roxb.) Heartwood Extractives against two Termite Species08/03/16
2018Biogeochemical hotspots around bark-beetle killed trees10/02/18
2015Command Performance The USFS presents its annual Termiticide Report for 201404/08/15
2017Comparison of performance of wood extractives as preservatives in field tests against termites and decay in the USA and Pakistan01/24/18
2017Diversity of Hindgut Bacterial Population in Subterranean Termite, Reticulitermes flavipes09/21/17
2018Durability of cross laminated timber against termite damage03/01/19
2018Dysbiosis: a potential novel strategy for control of subterranean termites04/05/19
2018Effect of chitosan on diversity and number of protists in subterranean termites04/05/19
2016Effects of permethrin treated wood on the subterranean termite Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) and comparison of solvent extraction for HPLC analysis of permethrin in wood12/07/17
2018Effects of Teak, Tectona grandis Linn, heartwood extractives against Heterotermes indicola (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae)07/25/18
2018Effects of White Mulberry (Morus alba) Heartwood Extract Against Reticulitermes flavipes (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae)07/24/18
2017Evaluating the role of Actinobacteria in the gut of wood-feeding termites (Reticulitermes spp.)09/06/17
2018Evaluation of cross-laminated timber resistance to termite attack04/02/19
2019Ex-situ performance of extracts from naturally durable heartwood species and their potential as wood preservatives09/26/19
2016GC-MS Characterizations of Termiticidal Heartwood Extractives from Wood Species Utilized in Pakistan08/03/16
2018Hexadecyl ammonium chloride amylose inclusion complex to emulsify cedarwood oil and treat wood against termites and wood-decay fungi04/03/18
2016Natural resistance of plantation grown African mahogany (Khaya ivorensis and Khaya senegalensis) from Brazil to wood-rot fungi and subterranean termites02/13/17
2018Ongoing field evaluation of Douglas-fir cross-laminated timber in a ground proximity protected test in Mississippi04/04/19
2017Potential impact of subterranean termites on cross-laminated timber (CLT) in the Southeastern U.S06/06/18
2018Remote detection of termite activity in wooden bridge structures08/31/18
2015Remote sensing for detection of termite infestations—Proof of Concept06/19/15
2018Termiticidal activity of chitosan against the subterranean termites Reticulitermes flavipes and Reticulitermes virginicus06/06/18
2016Termiticide testing continues The USFS presents its annual termiticide report for 201509/07/16
2019Toxicity potential of heartwood extractives from two mulberry species against Heterotermes indicola05/29/19
2018USDA FS report: 80 years of termiticide testing07/26/18
2017USFS termiticide report: a new era for termiticide tests09/13/17
2017Variation in natural durability of seven Eucalyptus grandis x Eucalyptus urophylla hybrid clones10/05/17

Project Summaries last modified: 03-09-2015