The study was conducted at Dilla University Botanical and Ecotourism garden to examine the diversity of termite species, their seasonal feeding activities and impact on indigenous plant collections at Dilla, Ethiopia. A total of 147 quadrants of 5 m2 (2.24 m x 2.24 m) were laid at every 10 meters interval at three randomly selected sampling sites during consecutive wet and dry season. All sections of the quadrants were intensively searched for one man-half hour period. The collected termites’ samples, approximately 10-20 individuals were preserved in vials containing 80% ethanol for species identification using soldier morphological characters with the compiled Keys to the Genera of Ethiopian regions termites. Species diversity indexes were calculated and their feeding preferences and microhabitats were also identified. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to visualize species association with the types of microhabitats and their sub-sites. The mound status and dimensions were also analyzed. Finally, the relationship between seasonal foraging activities of termites’ functional group and monthly rainfall was analyzed. The annual temperature of the study area rangeg from a mean minimum of 8 oC to mean maximum of 25.4 oC and mean annual rainfall of 1267 mm per year. A total of six species of termites was identified. Those termite species include Macrotermes herus, Odontotermes nr. pauperans, Microtermes species, Odontotermes species and Amitermes species. Termite species richness was 38.46% in the Scientific Garden and 30.76% in each of the Belt and Rivarian sites. The highest species richness (5 species) occurred in the Scientific Garden, followed by Belt and Rivarian which each of them composed of four species. The overall termite species richness was higher during the wet season than during the dry season. The majority of observed termite species were categorised as a generalist feeders and observed on seedling and wood materials. It is recommended that the establishment of any plantation within the Garden should consider the types of termite species available to increase the success rate of the plantation and management strategies against termites in the Botanical and Ecotourism Garden.
Keywords: Feeding preferences; Botanical and Ecotourism Garden; Microhabitat; Mound.