Some researchers have recently started tracking how climate change with an assist from an unlikely helper: the termite. The scientists are inferring climate history by noting the number and location of the termites' mounds, where their colonies set up show.
Termite mounds in Africa wax and wane according to annual rainfall, they discovered, allowing their use as a predictor of ecologic shifts due to climate change. [USA Today]
The scientists from Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology discovered this after mapping over 40,000 termite mounds in Kruger National Park in South Africa, and identifying three main ecosystems in the region: the dryer upslopes; the wetter downside slopes; and the medium-watered, termite-mounded soils.
"By understanding the patterns of the vegetation and termite mounds over different moisture zones, we can project how the landscape might change with climate change," said Greg Asner, a scientist at Carnegie. [Carnegie Institute]