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Termite Nurse Mound
Termite Mound, Malawi, Africa
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G.
termite mound has a lot more going for it than just providing shelter for its
occupants. Termite mounds often serve as "nurses" for
trees. The above photo, taken in Lengwe
National Park in southern Malawi, Africa, shows a papaya tree that had
taken root in a fungus termite mound.
Fungus termites feed on decaying wood and humus. They grow fungi that break down cellulose and lignins which they ingest. Thus, soils near fungus termite mounds are very fertile and often host many plant species. Moreover, the diversity of plants on and near termite mounds, and the number of fungus termite mounds, may serve as useful indicators of soil productivity and forest health in an area. Declines in mounds, however, can also be caused by periods of wet weather.
In a future EPOW we will explore the amazing multiple uses of termite mounds by various animals.
Next week's picture: A Tale of Four Wings
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