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The taxonomic status of pest species of Coptotermes in Southeast Asia: Resolving the paradox in the pest status of the termites, Coptotermes gestroi, C-havilandi and C-travians (Isoptera : Rhinotermitidae)

Kirton, L. G. and Brown, V. K. (2003) The taxonomic status of pest species of Coptotermes in Southeast Asia: Resolving the paradox in the pest status of the termites, Coptotermes gestroi, C-havilandi and C-travians (Isoptera : Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology, 42 (1). pp. 43-63. ISSN 0361-6525

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Abstract/Summary

The taxonomic status of Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann), C. havilandi Holmgren, C. travians (Haviland) and C. borneensis Oshima (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) is revised. The apparent discrepancy between the reported importance of C. havitandi in countries to which it has been introduced and the region from which it originated is shown to be due to misidentification and taxonomic confusion between C. travians, C. havilandi and C. gestroi. Based on an examination of specimens from Southeast Asia, two species are recognized, namely C. gestroi and C. travians. Coptotermes havilandi, described from imagos, is shown to be the same species as C. gestro described earlier from the soldier caste, and is designated a junior synonym. Coptotermes gestroi occurs from Assam through Burma and Thailand to Malaysia and the Indonesian archipelago, and has been introduced into other geographic regions, including parts of North and South America and the Caribbean. It is frequently found damaging wood in buildings, and is often intercepted outside its range in cargo onboard ships and sailing vessels, which is a likely mechanism for its spread to new geographical areas. Coptotermes gestroi has been misidentified in much literature as C. travians. Conversely, C. travians has been misidentified in recent literature in Peninsular Malaysia as C. havilandi and was redescribed from Borneo as C. borneensis, which is here designated a junior synonym of C. travians. It has a known distribution from Peninsular Malaysia to Borneo, and has not been found infesting wood in buildings. It is envisaged that the resolution of this taxonomic problem will enable the deployment of common pest management strategies for C. gestro the primary pest species of Coptotermes originating from Southeast Asia.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
ID Code:8789

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