Role of Termites in Nature
The role of termites in nature is often forgotten when they are busily destroying something that's of value to you. However, these eusocial insects have an important part to play in the environment. This article will discuss their importance as part of the group of decomposers, in agriculture, land management and so much more.
The General Role of Termites
Termites are often to blame when a door, prized item of furniture or even a picture frame disappears into dust. These insects belong to the infraorder known as Isoptera and they have a tendency to excavate and maintain passages through the soil. This behavior allow them to contribute to soil quality directly.
Termites are also known as decomposers or nature's recyclers. Without them and other decomposers, dead trees and other waste would just stay in position on the ground. The decomposition that humans take for granted involves a lot of work on the part of these animals.
These relatively tiny insects can break down a huge tree in a fairly short time and they do so all over the world. Termites simply see part of their job as eating dead wood and you must admit, the wood in your table is dead. They don't mean any harm and in ideal circumstances, they break down dead plant materials to release nutrients into the soil.
Termites in Dung Removal
Termites play a role in removing the dung of primary consumers, such as cows. This type of dung is packed with dead plant materials. At least 126 species of termites have been found to help with removing dung in this way.
This aspect of the role of termites in nature is especially important in the dry season. During that time, termites can remove a third of the dung deposited in a habitat in just one month. This helps to clear dung from the surface.
Termites Preserve Land Quality
Termites often bring dung below the surface, through the channels that they excavate in the soil. While doing so, they enrich the soil with vital nutrients that plants need. In this way, termites play an important role in preserving tropical ecosystems.
As termites tunnel through the soil, they make it more porous, so that the roots of plant can grow more easily. Their tunnels also help to keep the soil aerated. Termites even play a role in mineral exploration, since researchers can learn more about gold and substances that may be present deeper in the soil, via subsurface soils brought to the surface by termites.
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Learn about how a termite colony operates here