, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 385–395 | Cite as

“Magnetic” termite mound surfaces are oriented to suit wind and shade conditions

  • Peter M. Jacklyn
Original Papers


The termites Amitermes meridionalis and A. laurensis construct remarkable meridional or “magnetic” mounds in northern Australia. These mounds vary geographically in mean orientation in a manner that suggests such variation is an adaptive response to local environmental conditions. Theoretical modelling of solar irradiance and mound rotation experiments show that maintenance of an eastern face temperature plateau during the dry season is the most likely physical basis for the mound orientation response. Subsequent heat transfer analysis shows that habitat wind speed and shading conditions also affect face temperature gradients such as the rate of eastern face temperature change. It is then demonstrated that the geographic variation in mean mound orientation follows the geographic variation in long-term wind speed and shading conditions across northern Australia such that an eastern face temperature plateau is maintained in all locations.

Key words

Amitermes meridionalis Amitermes laurensis Termitaria Construction behaviour Orientation behaviour 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Jacklyn
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Division of Wildlife and EcologyC.S.I.R.O.WinnellieAustralia

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