Who knew? Termites may actually help predict the ecological changes wrought by climate change, a new study finds.
Turns out, termites are careful builders that locate their mounds in areas with the right balance of moisture and drainage. This intuitive understanding of geology and hydrology can help explain how a local ecosystem might evolve, according to the study by the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology.
"By understanding the patterns of the vegetation and termite mounds over different moisture zones, we can project how the landscape might change with climate change," explains co-author Greg Asner.
By using an airborne mapping system, the study's scientists tracked more than 40,000 termite mounds across 192 square miles in South Africa's Kruger National Park. They published their research in the Sept. 7 online edition of Nature Communications.