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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Building Science (MBS)


Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Niall Hanan


Termites (Blattodea: Termitoidae) are socially complex insects that are morphologically diverse and live in colonies. They represent a highly specialized form of cockroach that organizes into castes (distinct social groups including workers, soldiers, queen, etc.) that have specific roles within the colony (Eggleton 2010). Globally more than 2,600 species of termites have been described in over 280 genera and, while termites can occur in most climatic zones warmer than tundra, their greatest abundance and ecological significance is in the tropics (Kambhampti and Eggleton 2000). Termites impact many processes, including nutrient cycling, water dynamics, and soil porosity; in African savannas it has been estimated that termites consume more plant material than all large mammalian herbivores combined (Pomeroy et al. 1991; Moe et al. 2009). This thesis has two chapters focused on 1) termite diversity and biogeography in Southern Africa11, and 2) the use of a termite diversity database to test biodiversity theory2; specifically, the productivity diversity hypothesis (PDH) and the intermediate disturbance hypothesis (IDH). My results provide evidence in support of both PDH and IDH, and indicate that average temperature (a physiological constraint) and heterogeneity in space, time, and vegetation structure contribute to higher levels of termite diversity.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Termites -- Africa, Southern
Termites -- Africa, Southern -- Geographical distribution
Termites -- Variation --Africa, Southern


Includes bibliographical references (pages 48-52)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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