While termites can wreak havoc in old homes by pulling apart healthy wood, new evidence suggests that termites may actually serve a useful function in the prevention of desert expansion.
But because of the way termites harvest nutrients from plant life, they’re able to store those nutrients in termite mounds and bring the nutrients below the ground, away from the punishing effects of the sun. By storing nutrients below ground, they’re able to replenish nutrients lost by plant life in tough agricultural conditions.
Termites, which were once thought to only destroy healthy woods, may be able to, in conjunction with other creatures like ants and gophers, help prevent the ‘desertification’ of dryland regions in the developing world. Now that it’s known that small insects are able to store nutrients below the ground to help nurture plant life, new insights can be gained about the development processes of existing deserts and landscapes.