Apicotermes

Savannah termites with extraordinarily complex nests (Grasse 1984). The nests are underground structures, most commonly found under epigeal mounds of Cubitermes. At their most simple the nests differ very little from closely related genera within the group, being nothing more than a collection of chambers made from faecal material. However, many of the nests are complex ovoid structures 30-40 cm in diameter, suspended in chambers that are 2-7 cm larger than the nests. This chamber may be empty or filled with loose sand or lumps of faecal material. Inside the most complex nests are a series of floors, connected to each other by spiral ramps. The walls of the nests have small pores connecting the floors to the outside chamber. These are too small for termites (or predatory ants) to pass through, and are presumably to allow air to pass freely into the nest. The pores vary from simple holes and splits to elaborate spouts and funnels. Colonies appear to polycalic, with four to five nests connected by galleries in the soil. The nests have been found anything from a few cm to 500 cm underground. The internal structures all have the shagreend pattern typical of the Apicotermes-group, but the floors are less obviously so.

These are arguably the most complex architectural structures made by any non-human animal.

Group IV feeder.

Classification: 
Wed, 2009-01-21 16:12 -- Anonymous (not verified)

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