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Termites and desertification

Photo credit: Google

Termite mound in Kruger park

Impending Desertification Prevented by Termites?? How Is It Done?

Paper Reviewed
Bonachela, J.A., Pringle, R.M., Sheffer, E., Coverdale, T.C., Guyton, J.A., Caylor, K.K., Levin, S.A. and Tarnita, C.E. 2015. Termite mounds can increase the robustness of dryland ecosystems to climatic change.

in Science 347: 651-655.

Introducing their intriguing study, Bonachela et al. (2015) note that in arid and semi-arid savannas and grasslands, plants facilitate neighbors by increasing water infiltration while competing for water with distant individuals, citing Rietkerk et al. (2002). And they go on to say that “reducing rainfall generates a predictable sequence of patterns with decreasing overall plant biomass,” going from over-dispersed gaps to “labyrinths, spots, and finally, barren desert,” which last transition, in their words, “is known as a ‘catastrophic shift,’ or sudden collapse to an un-vegetated state,” citing Rietkerk et al. (2004) and Scheffer et al. (2009).

Read the full text: CO2 Science

 

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.