VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Tag archives for termites
Although we can’t always perceive them, vibrations provide a critical way of communicating for many animal species.
From a power source to a cancer fighter, learn about the many uses of termite poop.
In dry ecosystems like Namibia, where fairy circles are common, competition for water is fierce. Therefore, while we may see a calm savannah landscape, fierce resource competition is actually being waged below the surface, at root level.
“We hypothesize that these barren spots arise due to below-ground resource competition between grasses,” states the report. “Enhanced growth in individuals that are strong competitors for below-ground resources results in the decline in growth of neighboring individuals, thus forming larger interspaces or barren patches.”
In other words, whoever wins the water war essentially condemns his neighboring grasses to death by dehydration, creating a barren patch – the nexus of the fairy circle.
Fairy circles—circular patches of bare soil surrounded by a ring of grass—have long mystified scientists. Now there’s an answer.
Lions, elephants, and giraffes may be relatively minor players when it comes to shaping the African savanna ecosystem. “The real king of the savanna appears to be the termite,” say researchers. “These humble creatures contribute mightily to grassland productivity in central Kenya via a network of uniformly distributed colonies. Termite mounds greatly enhance plant and…