Surprise: These termites are good for trees

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Chien C. Lee

Surprise: These termites are good for trees

When it involves floorboards and furnishings, termites get a foul rap. But there’s one kind of wooden they might be good for: the trees of rainforests.

During an excessive drought that struck the island of Borneo throughout late 2015 and early 2016, researchers studied eight broadly scattered plots on the forest flooring. In 4 of these 2500-square-meter areas, group members dug out or leveled termite mounds after which left poison baits for the bugs that remained. In the opposite 4 areas, researchers left the bugs alone.

In the plots with intact termite mounds and nests, soil moisture at a depth of 5 centimeters was 36% increased in the course of the drought than it was in plots the place termite exercise was disrupted. Termites (above) usually require a moist atmosphere and, when crucial, will dig down dozens of meters or extra to carry water as much as their residing areas, the scientists word.

That termite-induced enhance in near-surface soil moisture was useful to vegetation in the course of the drought, the researchers report right now inScience: Seedlings of climbing vines transplanted into areas where termites remained active were 51% more likely to survive than these in areas with out the wood-eating bugs.

Because droughts are anticipated to happen extra ceaselessly in coming years as local weather modifications, termites might play an more and more vital function in rainforest productiveness and biodiversity, the researchers counsel.

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