Leafcutter ant ‘compost piles’ produce potent greenhouse gases

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F. Soper et al.,Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 10.1098 (2019)

Leafcutter ant ‘compost piles’ produce potent greenhouse gases

Leafcutter ants are identified for producing a number of trash. In reality, the species Atta colombica (above) can create bathtub-size, thigh-high mounds of refuse that comprise not solely leaves, but in addition ant poop, micro organism, and useless ants. Now, researchers have found these large compost piles are potent sources of greenhouse gases.

Researchers analyzed the exhalations of 22 leafcutter mounds in southwestern Costa Rica. They discovered that within the humid, oxygen-poor circumstances of the piles, micro organism produce prodigious quantities of methane and nitrous oxide. Levels of methane seeping from the mounds have been about 20 occasions greater than these emanating from the encompassing forest ground. But the large shock was nitrous oxide, which left the mounds in concentrations 1000 times or more above background levels, the researchers report on-line at present within theProceedings of the Royal Society B.

Such charges rival or exceed these from wastewater therapy vegetation and dairy manure lagoons. But how they have an effect on the local weather is unknown—that’s as a result of developing with an estimate of complete emissions, from A. colombica and the almost 4 dozen different species of leafcutter ants, is likely to be subsequent to unattainable. However, their analysis might have defined one thriller: why different research have detected extensively various ranges of methane and nitrous oxide within the areas the place a few of these ants reside.

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