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Journal Articles Soil Use and Management Year : 2023

Abundance, perceptions and utilizations of termite mounds in Cambodia

Vincent Hervé
Ève Bureau-Point


In the Lower Mekong Basin, paddy fields often appear as mosaics, with soil mounds covered by trees or other plants in a spotty distribution. These soil mounds are commonly named termite ‘lenticular mounds’ because termite bioturbation is considered to be at their origin. Termite mounds host a large diversity of animals and plants, increasing landscape patchiness. Because the preservation of these islands of biodiversity is threatened by modern agricultural practices, the aim of this study was to quantify their abundance and the services they provide to the local population. The abundance of mounds and their use by the population were quantified in a catchment in Cambodia. We found that mounds density reached ~2 mounds ha−1. Interviews carried out within the catchment showed that most of the interviewees used mounds for increasing the fertility of their field and for the cultivation of rice and other plants (e.g. sponge gourd and pumpkin). In addition to their potential to increase plant productivity, the survey revealed that animals (rats and snakes), mushrooms and 13 plant species found on or in mounds were consumed by the population. In addition to potentially contributing to an increase in food diversity, mounds also impacted farmers' health by allowing access to 20 medicinal plant species and indirectly via a reduction in pesticide use. In conclusion, this study is the first attempt to quantify the large number of services provided by termite mounds in Cambodia. This increase in the knowledge of the diversity of environmental and socioeconomic services provided by termite mounds is likely to contribute to their preservation and provide a basis for the sustainable management of biodiversity in paddy fields in the Lower Mekong Basin region.
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Origin : Files produced by the author(s)
Origin : Files produced by the author(s)

Dates and versions

hal-04161047 , version 1 (30-08-2023)



Ratha Muon, Chenda Lai, Vincent Hervé, Rainer Zaiss, Ève Bureau-Point, et al.. Abundance, perceptions and utilizations of termite mounds in Cambodia. Soil Use and Management, 2023, 39 (3), pp.1172-1184. ⟨10.1111/sum.12893⟩. ⟨hal-04161047⟩
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