Secret Site Map
Thursday, May 28, 2015

Home News Researchers Find Termites Key to Savanna Ecosystem

Researchers Find Termites Key to Savanna Ecosystem

Termite Control

A study out today in PLoS Biology finds that termites create oases of biological richness in the African savanna.

| May 28, 2010

A study out today in PLoS Biology finds that termites create oases of biological richness in the African savanna.

It came about because when biologist Todd Palmer, one of the authors on the paper, first got to Africa in 1997, he was researching ants, not termites. Acacia ants, specifically, because three species of them, Crematogaster nigriceps, C. mimosae, and C. sjostedti, all live in symbiosis with acacias.

But as he crawled around scrubby patches of acacia drepanolobium (known as the whistling thorn), he couldn't help but notice that the lushest pockets of the trees tended to cluster around a ring of grass that contained no trees.

It wasn't until another researcher, this time a termite expert from Oxford University in England, came to visit that what he was seeing became clear. She took one look at the rings and said "Those are termite nests."

Most Americans, Palmer among them, have an image of African termite mounds as being tall, pillar-like objects made of red dirt. But in central Kenya the odontotermes montanus termite builds underground mounds that especially in times of drought don't look much different from the rest of the savanna.

"They were literally invisible to me," he says.

But when the drought lifted, the rings quickly become greener and more productive than the surrounding area, standing out like "little pricks of green" as you fly over them, says Palmer. Not only that, but they definitely appeared in a uniform 'polka dot' arrangement.

Palmer, and many others, wondered "that's not a human-made feature, how did these get to be so regular?" What he and fellow researchers writing in this week's edition of the journal PLoS Biologyfound was that localized interactions between species scale up to create specific patterns.

What they showed was the extent to which one species can alter the entire structure and function of an entire ecosystem -– and literally under the noses of ecologists for years, a pattern that was invisible until someone, or a bunch of someone's, started actually paying attention to it.

Source: USA Today

 

 

Top news

Fastest Growing U.S. Cities in West And South, Census Bureau Reports

Most cities with populations above 100,000 in those regions grew significantly between 2000 and 2010, and 2010 and 2013, according to the bureau's report, which was released last week.

Nicotinoid and Fungal Disease Team up to Break Down Termites' Tough Defenses

Purdue University research shows that a small amount of nicotinoid pesticide substantially weakens termites' ability to fight off fungal diseases, a finding that could lead to more effective methods of pest control.

NPMA Announces PesTech³

The new conference, scheduled for Jan. 5-7, 2016, in Silicon Valley (San Jose, Calif.), focuses on technology solutions for pest management professionals.

ESA Announces New ACEs/BCEs for May 2015

The Entomological Society of America announced that seven industry professionals recently earned BCE or ACE credentials.

Industry Icon Blanton Whitmire Dies

Whitmire, whose contributions to the pest control industry include founding Whitmire Research Laboratories (a BASF legacy company) and developing the innovative “crack and crevice” aerosol technology, died on Sunday, at 97.

x