Wood Feeders

Wood-feeding cockroach species remove large quantities of wood from the surface but their contribution to soil fertility has yet to be explored. Both Panesthiinae and Cryptocercidae progressively degrade the logs they inhabit. They not only ingest wood, but also shred it without consumption when excavating tunnels. The abundant feces line galleries, pack side chambers, and are

Fig. 10.1 Decomposition of logs by Cryptocercus punctulatus, Mountain Lake Biological Station, Virginia. (A) Frass pile outside gallery entrance. (B) Small log hollowed and filled entirely with frass and fecal pellets. Photos by C.A. Nalepa.

pushed to the outside of the logs, no doubt influencing local populations of bacteria, fungi, and microfauna (Fig. 10.1). The typically substantial body size of these insects contributes to their impact; some species of Panesthia exceed 5 cm in length (Roth, 1979c). Although these two taxa are the best known, many cockroach species potentially influence log decomposition (Table 3.2).

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