Each termite produces, on average, about 0.5 mg CH4/day - a seemingly insignificant amount. However, when this is multiplied by the global population of termites, CH4 emissions from this source are estimated to be about 20 Tg/year.
There are more than 2000 different species of termites and the amounts of CH4 produced vary considerably between species, with some producing no CH4 at all. CH4 is produced in termite guts, by symbiotic bacteria and protozoa, during food digestion. This CH4 does not always end up going straight into the atmosphere. Many species are subterranean or live in aboveground earth mounds where much of the CH4 can be used up by soil methanotrophs before it gets out into the atmosphere - soil-mediated
CH4 oxidation, as discussed in subsequent chapters.
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