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Termites foretell climate change in Africa’s savannas

ScienceDaily (September 8, 2010)

Termites foretell climate change in Africa’s savannas

ScienceDaily (September 8, 2010)

Using sophisticated airborne imaging and structural analysis, scientists mapped more than 40,000 termite mounds over 192 square miles in the African savanna. They found that their size and distribution is linked to vegetation and landscape patterns associated with annual rainfall. The results reveal how the savanna terrain has evolved and show how termite mounds can be used to predict ecological shifts from climate change.

Huge termite mound in Namibia.Credit : iStockphoto

Mound-building termites in the study area of Kruger National Park in South Africa tend to build their nests in areas that are not too wet, nor too dry, but are well drained, and on slopes of savanna hills above boundaries called seeplines. Seeplines form where water has flowed belowground through sandy, porous soil and backs up at areas rich in clay. Typically woody trees prefer the well-drained upslope side where the mounds tend to locate, while grasses dominate the wetter areas down slope.

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The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution

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