Letter | Published:

Global production of methane by termites

Nature volume 301, pages 700702 (24 February 1983) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Widespread destruction of forests and their replacement by grasslands may provide suitable habitats for termites, leading to an increase in their population and thus also in the production of methane1. We have carried out an experiment to verify the role of termites in the global methane cycle and to identify the uncertainties inherent in such global extrapolations of laboratory data. We found that termites are indeed a potentially significant source of atmospheric methane with an estimated global prodution of about 50 × 1012 g yr−1; however, the uncertainties in global estimates are so large (10–100 × 1012 g yr−1) that it cannot yet be proved that termites play an important role in the global methane cycle. Our calculations show that the production of CH4 by termites is probably <15% of the global yearly emissions.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Environmental Science, Oregon Graduate Center, 19600 N.W. Walker Road, Beaverton, Oregon 97006, USA

    • R. A. Rasmussen
    •  & M. A. K. Khalil

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/301700a0

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