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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2001 Nov-Dec;74(6):798-822.

On the mound of Macrotermes michaelseni as an organ of respiratory gas exchange.

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Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, NY, 13210, USA.


Patterns and rates of air movements in the mounds and nests of Macrotermes michaelseni were studied using tracer methods. Wind is a significant source of energy for powering nest ventilation, despite the mound being a completely enclosed structure. Nests are ventilated by a tidal movement of air driven by temporal variation in wind speed and wind direction. Density gradients sufficiently steep to drive bulk flow by natural convection will be rare. However, metabolism-induced buoyant forces may interact with wind energy in a way that promotes homeostasis of the mound atmosphere.

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