Wonderful termite architecture

Bt Jason Goldman ( image : Philip Morton)
ಲೇಖಕರು: ಸಾಯಿಲ್‌ ವಾಸು

Termite Mound : Some of the best-known soil architects are the mound-building termites of Africa, Australia and South America.
These termites aren’t so different from all the other termites of the world, except that they adorn their underground nests with elaborate, above-ground mounds, constructed entirely from soil.
The mounds contain a dense network of tunnels and conduits whose main purpose is to provide ventilation for the nest underneath. The tunnels are usually built by the working caste: sexually immature termites who are blind and wingless. As their name suggests, they’re the workers. They don’t protect the nest from invaders or predators (that’s the soldiers) and they don’t get to have sex (that’s the reproductive caste). They may not have much fun, but they are responsible for the magnificent mounds, some of which can reach more than thirty metres in diameter.
And the mounds aren’t just visually striking; they also contribute to maintaining the diversity of surrounding plant life. In Africa, clusters of mounds belonging to Macrotermes termites allow for tree islands to grow in the middle of grassy oceans. It’s thought this is in part because the termites, like earthworms, help dead plants to decompose and stir the organic matter into the soil. That makes the soil surrounding termite mounds more fertile than elsewhere.


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