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Mystery of Desert 'Fairy Circles' Solved

fairy circles termites psammotermes allocerus desert pockmarks

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#16    HollyDolly


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Posted 26 April 2013 - 01:56 PM

There is an ant that also will clear the grass away from where it nests into circular areas,forgot what they are called.

#17    Doug1o29



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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:04 PM

View PostStill Waters, on 29 March 2013 - 09:43 PM, said:

Known as fairy circles, these patches crop up in regular patterns along a narrow strip of the Namib Desert between mid-Angola and northwestern South Africa, and can persist for decades. The cause of these desert pockmarks has been widely debated, but a species of sand termite, Psammotermes allocerus, could be behind the mysterious dirt rings, suggests a study published today (March 28) in the journal Science.
There are lots of things that form "fairy rings."  Fungi consume the available organics out of the soil.  The center of the patch then starves for lack of food, while the edges expand outward.  You can see this in lawns after a good rain.  It's pretty cool when you find a complete ring.

There's a ring-shaped creosote bush in the Mojave Desert that has consumed the nutrients in the inner area.  Based on size and rate-of-spread, it is estimated at 15,000 years old - older than the desert it's in.

Some types of bunch grass in dry areas do this.  There's not enough water in the middle, so that area dies out, leaving a ring.

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#18    Wickian



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Posted 27 April 2013 - 12:33 AM

Makes sense, I have a large backyard with quite a few ant colonies(the mellow large black ant variety that you can put your hand into a line of and they'll just walk over you if you do it right) and their ant holes are cleared of all plant life in a few feet radius.  They eat all the seeds/foxtails all year long.

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