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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Giant African Termite Mounds

Mound building termites of East, Central and Southern Africa can serve as an oasis in the African desert to plants by replenishing the soil.



According to the New York Times “Researchers at Princeton University and their colleagues recently reported in the journal Science that termite mounds may serve as oases in the desert, allowing the plants that surround them to persist on a fraction of the annual rainfall otherwise required and to bounce back after a withering drought.” By poking holes, or macropores, as they dig through the ground, termites allow rain to soak deep into the soil rather than running off or evaporating.

“They’re the ultimate soil engineers,” said David Bignell, a termite expert and emeritus professor of zoology at Queen Mary University of London.

Termites are extraordinary engineers, capable of building mounds standing as tall as 40 feet high and 60 feet wide and continue to build on the same mounds for centuries. Termite mounds can take four to five years to build from the termites’ saliva, dung and surrounding soil.
Mound building termites of East, Central and Southern Africa can serve as an oasis in the African desert to plants by replenishing the soil.
Giant African Termite Mounds

Inside the termite mound is an extensive system of tunnels and channels that serve as a ventilation system keeping the internal temperature relatively constant. Like most social insects such as ants and bees, termites live in societies where the collective power of the group surpasses that of the individual termite.


Mound-building termites live in Africa, India, Australia and South America. Only a few of the 3,000 or so known termite species are pests to people moreover, the mound building termites of East, Central and Southern Africa can serve as oases in the desert to plants by replenishing the soil.

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