Solar-powered ventilation of African termite mounds

  title={Solar-powered ventilation of African termite mounds},
  author={Samuel A. Ocko and Hunter King and David Andr{\'e}en and Paul M. Bardunias and J. Scott Turner and Rupert Soar and Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan},
  journal={Journal of Experimental Biology},
  pages={3260 - 3269}
ABSTRACT How termite mounds function to facilitate climate control is still only partially understood. Recent experimental evidence in the mounds of a single species, the south Asian termite Odontotermes obesus, suggests that the daily oscillations of radiant heating associated with diurnal insolation patterns drive convective flow within them. How general this mechanism is remains unknown. To probe this, we consider the mounds of the African termite Macrotermes michaelseni, which thrives in a… Expand
Hydrological characteristics and functions of termite mounds in areas with clear dry and rainy seasons
Abstract Many species of fungus-feeding termites collectively build massive mound structures that enclose a network of broad tunnels to provide a controlled microclimate in which to raise fungus andExpand
The north–south orientation of Australian termite mounds is due to the Sun and local wind: A heat transfer investigation
The Australian “magnetic” termite mounds are famously known for their systematic wedge-shape and north–south alignment. Although the longer axis of the mound wedge is mainly aligned north-to-south,Expand
Morphogenesis of termite mounds
A mathematical model that couples environmental physics to insect behavior is introduced that captures the range of naturally observed mound shapes in terms of a minimal set of dimensionless parameters and makes testable hypotheses for the response of mound morphology to external temperature oscillations and internal odors. Expand
How the thermal environment shapes the structure of termite mounds
The model successfully predicts the main architectural characteristics of typical Macrotermes michaelseni mounds for the environmental conditions they live in and indicates that the mound superstructure and internal condition strongly depend on the combined effect of environmental forces. Expand
INSIDE JEB Termite mound lungs driven by solar power
At first glance, a towering termite mound might look like a bustling insect skyscraper, but the insect megalopolis that is home to hundreds of thousands of termites is buried in the ground beneath.Expand
Termites have developed wider thermal limits to cope with environmental conditions in savannas
It is proposed that that a likely mechanism that facilitated the expansion from forest to savanna was the widening of physiological limits of savanna termite species in order to cope with more extreme environmental conditions. Expand
Thermal regulatory mechanisms of termites from two different savannah ecosystems.
This work studied seven species of mound building termites from five genera in two different savannahs and determined some of their passive thermal control strategies and discussed the adaptive implications of building mounds under the shades and mushroom shaped mounds for their role in thermal regulation within the nest. Expand
Stratification effects on flow and scalar transport through a deep cavity: A bioinspired examination
This study investigates the effect of thermal stratification and boundary layer wind on the transport phenomena within a deep cavity. The study is inspired by the ventilation and gas-exchange processExpand
Self-organized biotectonics of termite nests
This study demonstrates how a local self-reinforcing biotectonic scheme is capable of generating an architecture that is simultaneously adaptable and functional, and likely to be relevant for a range of other animal-built structures. Expand
Termite mound architecture regulates nest temperature and correlates with species identities of symbiotic fungi
While the limited ventilation capacity of small mounds sets strict limits to insect colony growth, in this case, improving nest ventilation would invariable lead to excessively low nest temperatures, with negative consequences to the symbiotic fungus. Expand


Ventilation of termite mounds: new results require a new model
The data do not support Luscher's proposed mechanism for cathedral-shaped termite mounds to exchange respiratory gases, because the CO2 concentrations in the air channels of savanna mounds at night and forest mounds in general were higher than during the day in the savanna. Expand
Termite mounds harness diurnal temperature oscillations for ventilation
By directly measuring the flow inside a mound, it is shown that diurnal ambient temperature oscillations drive cyclic flows that flush out CO2 from the nest and ventilate the mound, demonstrating how work can be derived from the fluctuations of an intensive environmental parameter. Expand
Thermoregulation and ventilation of termite mounds
  • J. Korb
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Naturwissenschaften
  • 2002
Results from recent studies on Macrotermes bellicosus are reviewed that considered the interdependence of ambient temperature, thermoregulation, ventilation and mound architecture, and that question some of the fundamental paradigms of termite mounds. Expand
On the Mound of Macrotermes michaelseni as an Organ of Respiratory Gas Exchange
  • J. S. Turner
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
  • 2001
Patterns and rates of air movements in the mounds and nests of Macrotermes michaelseni were studied using tracer methods to find out how metabolism‐induced buoyant forces may interact with wind energy in a way that promotes homeostasis of the mound atmosphere. Expand
Ventilation and thermal constancy of a colony of a southern African termite (Odontotermes transvaalensis: Macrotermitinae)
It seems that ventilation of the O. transvaalensis colony does not play a significant role in the regulation of colony temperature, and other mechanisms, such as free convection within the colony, or forced ventilation by external winds, may play a minor and secondary role in translocating air inside the colony. Expand
The mound-building termite Macrotermes michaelseni as an ecosystem engineer
The phenomenon called ecosystem engineering is considered with a case study of the mound building termite Macrotermes michaelseni, and it is argued that this species acts as an ecosystem engineer across a range of spatial scales. Expand
Architecture and morphogenesis in the mound of Macrotermes michaelseni (Sjöstedt) (Isoptera: Termitidae, Macrotermitinae) in northern Namibia
The mounds of Macrotermes michaelseni (Sjostedt) in northern Namibia have a characteristic architecture, being divided into three structurally distinct components: a central cone-shaped mound, toppedExpand
Beyond biomimicry: What termites can tell us about realizing the living building.
Termites and the structures they build have been used as exemplars of biomimetic designs for climate control in buildings, like Zimbabwe's Eastgate Centre, and various other "termite-inspired"Expand
Soils are not simply present in a habitat: they are the product of a dynamic balance between agents of soil construction and soil degradation. Arid conditions, like those that prevail over much ofExpand
Pulsed gradient NMR measurements and numerical simulation of flow velocity distribution in sphere packings
The displacement of water molecules associated with the flow of water inside a nonconsolidated packing of 800 μm OD glass spheres has been measured by a pulsed gradient NMR technique. Using aExpand