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PhD student

phone: +32 (0)2 650 45 25

e-mail: Johanna.Romero.Arias@ulb.ac.be

Research interests

PhD research project

Supervisors: Yves Roisin

How stochastic versus deterministic processes contribute to the assembly and functional diversity of communities is a central question in ecology. In this respect, plant communities have received most attention, but little is known about the soil fauna. Soil-feeding termites are a prominent component of the pedofauna in many tropical regions. The overarching goal of my PhD project is to understand why there are so many species of soil‐feeding termites in afrotropical and neotropical forests and woodlands?

We will study community composition and functional diversity of soil-feeding termites in these two geographical ranges to cast light on their functioning and assembly rules. Our research will focus on the Apicotermitinae subfamily, an abundant group of termites in both Africa and the Neotropics. The main goals of the study are:

  1. 1.The identification and characterisation of feeding niches by stable isotope ratio determination and digestive tube content analysis;

  2. 2.The quantification of functional traits of mandible morphology and digestive anatomy;

  3. 3.The reconstruction of a well‐supported phylogeny of the Apicotermitinae (part of an international initiative to resolve the full termite phylogeny). The ultimate goal of this research is to gain insight into the evolution and adaptions of the Apicotermitinae subfamily by combining phylogenetic and functional diversity analyses.

Master thesis

Influence of the population size on nest morphogenesis in Lasius niger

Supervisors:  Jean-Louis Deneubourg (Unit of Social Ecology, Université libre de Bruxelles), Thierry Hance (ELIB, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium)


Romero Arias J, Bonneville S, Roisin Y (In press) Crop-gizzard content and volume variations among afrotropical Apicotermitinae (Blattodea, Termitidae). Insectes sociaux 67, 261-271.
doi: 10.1007/s00040-020-00760-x

Romero Arias J, Chevalier C, Roisin Y (2020) Anatomical specializations of the gizzard in soil-feeding termites (Termitidae, Apicotermitinae): Taxonomical and functional implications. Arthropod Structure and Development 57, 100942.
doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2020.100942


Romero-Arias J (2017) À l’intérieur du tube digestif chez Apicotermitinae (termites humivores).  At Université Nangui Abrogoua, Abidjan (Ivory Coast).

Romero-Arias J, Roisin Y (2017) Gut content and anatomy in termites: an insight into the Apicotermitinae assemblage rules. European Conference of Tropical Ecology, Brussels (Belgium).

Romero-Arias J, Toffin E, Campo A, Deneubourg J-L (2015) Influence of the population size on nest morphogenesis in Lasius niger. 28ème Congrès de l'Union Internationale pour l'Etude des Insectes Sociaux - Section Française, Tours (France).

Romero-Arias J, Toffin E, Deneubourg J-L, Campo A (2015) Video tracking with open source use Tracker software: example based on net excavation in Lasius niger ants. 28ème Congrès de l'Union Internationale pour l'Etude des Insectes Sociaux - Section Française, Tours (France).

Educational background

  1. PhD in Evolutionary Biology (2015 - today, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)

  2. Master in Organisms Biology and Ecology, organisms-environment interactions research focus (2013 - 2015, Université Catholique de Louvain & FUNDP de Namur, Belgium)

  3. Environmental Biologist (2010, Universidad del Azuay, Ecuador)

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  1. Johanna E. Romero Arias

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