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Natural World

Termite mounds help combat climate change

February 8, 2015 | Comment icon 2 comments

Termite mounds in northern Australia. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 CSIRO
Far from being unwanted pests, termites are actually turning out to be good for the environment.
According to a new study published in the journal Science, termite mounds may actually act as an oasis of life in some of the world's most desolate regions, providing a place for plant life to grow while simultaneously stopping the encroachment of deserts.

In some regions this effect is very apparent with termite mounds, which store both nutrients and moisture, dotting the otherwise dry landscape with patches of vibrant green.

"I like to think of termites as linchpins of the ecosystem in more than one way," said study co-author and evolutionary biologist Robert Pringle from Princeton University. "They increase the productivity of the system, but they also make it more stable, more resilient."
The researchers focused primarily on investigating the environmental impact of termite mounds in arid landscapes across Africa, South America and Asia.

"The rain is the same everywhere, but because termites allow water to penetrate the soil better, the plants grow on or near the mounds as if there were more rain," said co-author Corina Tarnita .

"As long as the mounds are there, the ecosystem has a better chance to recover."

Source: Discovery News | Comments (2)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
At this rate, soon you won't be able to kill termites. Houses will need to be built out of plastic and metal and any other sturdy non-wood product.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Karasu 7 years ago
Better call the Orkin man. http://youtu.be/mi-7e7nJqMQ

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