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Termites as Indicators of Climate Changes

Throughout time, people have believed that animals have the ability or instinct to tell bad things that will happen. Often these instincts are related to weather alterations or climactic changes due to an incoming natural catastrophe. It has been observed that animals' behaviors often become erratic in response to the upcoming omen. Earlier people often even use animals to detect early signs of an earthquake arrival or a brewing storm up ahead. They can tell by the amount of discomfort animals in the barn or any domesticated animals manifest. There is still no conclusive empirical basis on this phenomenon and researchers are still finding facts to truly explain such things from happening.

The most common animals that manifest this kind of behaviors are those that are typically but not limited to domesticated dogs, cats, guinea pigs, or barn animals like owls, cows, and or goats. Throughout time people often see them manifest this kind of behavior when something is up. Some people even believer they are harbingers of bad omen and they would resort to certain ritualistic practices to counter that bad thing that is about to come i.e. host sacrificing, pagan worships and what not. However, there are only too few of such practices being accounted for at present time. In the light of scientific approaches that are further being developed progressively every day, there is no longer a need for such practices to exist. However, the truth remains about animals being able to foretell and researchers are still finding the key answers to unlock the mystery of animals' sage-like abilities. They may not be able to tell you in words what’s about to come, but they could certainly act it out to let you know about it.

But would you believe that even termites can also manifest that same characteristic of foretelling things in happening. You might have been wondering how such puny brainless critters can be able to execute such a complex instinct. On top of that question is that considering their sizes, of just millimetres in length be able to paint the slightest semblance of a message to communicate their gut feelings about what’s about to happen. It is quite mind boggling indeed to think that termites are able to manifest such behaviors. Nevertheless, that is still somehow true as there has been a report accounted that termites are able to foretell climate changes and the search for further scientific explanations are still at large as of this very moment.

It may have crossed your mind as to how termites exactly behave when they are about to foretell something like climate change from happening. You would have thought they would elicited certain tangible reactions like disorganized behaviors within the colony or them consuming more wood than they normally do, like they have become more destructive than ever when there is a climate change. However, that is not so with termites as they can tell climate changes in a completely new and different level. In other words, they have another way of telling things to us about what's happening around.

Termites, as eusocial organisms have managed to develop a different level of communicating indications of climate changes. This is through the topographical locations of their colonies that we humans are able to read the signs of climate changes around us. However, this termite indications of climate changes is not readily seen everywhere in the globe. They are only normally seen on natural habitats of termites in certain areas in the world where they are more prevalent. Say for example, in Africa, wherein most species of termites in existence inhabit.

According to recent research in Palo Alto, California, upon using the most sophisticated type of technology the scientists in CIDGE or Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Economy detected that they are more than over 40,000 – 50,000 mounds of termite covering almost 200 sq. miles in the African savannas. Initially, they found that their prevalent and massive habitation in the savanna places are solely linked to the vegetation and potential food sources nearby the place. However, the strategic locations of the termite mounds also indicate another thing. The patterns of the mound locations indicate a pattern greatly associated with the annual rainfall in Africa. The study’s result elaborates on how the African savanna areas have evolved through time and unravelled the fact that termite territories can significantly predict or pre-empt certain ecological shifts in the system resulting from particular climate changes. Upon the revelations of the study, the research was published in Sept. 7, 2010; an online edition entitled the Nature Communications.

Termite mound-building rationale relies on the certain area condition factors that provide a highly conducive environment for habitation. Mounds are built in areas that are not too wet and not too dry, however still well drained. These areas are also located in the African savanna hills demarcations called sleeplines. The sleeplines are where water flows via underground passing through the sandy and porous soils and banks right up in areas abundant with clay. In this way, wood trees would likely grow on the thoroughly drained upper slope parts and thus the mounds would most likely be found. The grasses however, prevail in the areas down the slope where it is wetter.

The relationship of the mound and the specific locations in the African Savannas indicate and excellent proof of aspects in hydrology, geology and certain soil conditions. These conditions then in return affect the plants that grow in the area, hence the entire local ecology. The density and the size of the mound, as well as the multitude are perfect indicators of the healthy ecosystem in the area. This is of course in respect to the vegetation patterns present.

The termite-mound indications further indicates that amount of precipitation in the area making the scientists empirically aware of which areas vegetations could possibly prosper more. Furthermore, the shifts in seasons don't affect the termite mounds in anyway. They remain rooted to the original conditions of the eco system prior the season shifts and they remain as they are despite the fluctuations.

Michael Rozatoru :)
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