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

Physiol Biochem Zool. Nov-Dec 2001;74(6):798-822. doi: 10.1086/323990.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Movements
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Isoptera*
  • Social Behavior
  • Ventilation