Just the arthropod fauna of Borneo’s lowland forests has been estimated at 3,000 species, with Hymenoptera
(sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants), Coleoptera
(beetles), flies (Diptera
) and true bugs (Hemiptera
) showing the most species and largest population sizes.
Borneo’s recyclers: ants, termites and millipedes
Ants are some of the most abundant and diverse animal groups in tropical ecosystems, and they function at many levels:
- as predators and prey
- as detritivores (organisms that recycle decomposing organic matter)
- as mutualists (an interaction between two species where both derive benefit).
Ants also have a role as indicators of environmental change.
Borneo may have more than 1,000 species of ants, with representatives of about 30% of ant genera and about 7% of ant species globally.
Termites (order Isoptera
) are found in massive numbers in tropical rainforests. In Borneo’s tropical rainforests, termites are one of the most abundant and ecologically important groups of insects. They play important roles in nutrient recycling, soil formation and quality, and as food for many predators. Their nests also provide food and shelter for many organisms.
One termite species is the processional termite Hospitalitermes
, which is found across Southeast Asia. The species forages for lichens and other plants, primarily from tree trunks and the rainforest canopy.
Another group of Borneo invertebrates that play a critical role in recycling dead matter are millipedes (class Diplopoda
). Species of this class of invertebrates, which is estimated to have existed on Earth for over 400 million years, have developed a close association with forest ecosystems by playing an important role in the decomposition of wood and leaf litter.