Termite, Syntermes dirus
230,000 square kilometre(s)
Constructed over nearly 4,000 years and still occupied in parts to this day, a subterranean network of colonies in the caatinga scrubland of north-east Brazil that spans an area of 230,000 square kilometres (88,800 square miles) – larger than the island of Great Britain. The architects behind this megastructure are Syntermes dirus termites, the workers of which only measure about 1 centimetre (0.4 inches) long. The conglomeration (which is visible from space) is distinguished by some 200 million conical mounds (known locally as murundus) on the surface formed from waste dirt excavated from the tunnel systems beneath, each measuring around 2.5 metres (8 feet) tall and 9 metres (30 feet) in diameter. In total, the mounds are comprised of an estimated 10 cubic kilometres (2.4 cubic miles) of soil, which in terms of volume is equivalent to around 4,000 Great Pyramids of Giza.
The youngest of the mounds has been dated at 690 years and the oldest 3,820 years.
For context, the largest human city is the New York Metropolitan Area at 8,683 km2 (3,353 sq mi).
Martin, S.J., Funch, R.R., Hanson, P.R. and Yoo, E.H., 2018. A vast 4,000-year-old spatial pattern of termite mounds. Current Biology, 28(22), pp.R1292-R1293.
Medical News Today↪
Yale Scientific ↪
Congrats to Qiang who was selected as the finalist (10 out of 25) of the John Odland paper competition (the Spatial Analysis and Modeling specialty group ). His presentation is entitled: “A hybrid approach to estimate spatially and temporally resolved PM2.5 distributions from multi-sourced AOD data”. Time & Location: 1:40 – 1:55 PM, Feb. 25, 2022, Online.
Youngseob Eum (GEOEH member, Ph.D. Candidate) was the recipient of the Dr. L. Michael Trapasso Award for Weather and Climate Impacts. The Dr. L. Michael Trapasso award is offered by the UB Department of Geography in order to advance the awardee’s research involving the use of meteorological or climatological data in the following year.
organized by The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NASEM) on “Leveraging Advances in Remote Geospatial Technologies to Inform Precision Environmental Health Decisions”
The workshop primer can be found here: Applications of Geospatial Methods in Environmental Science (~14 mins).
Congratulations to GEOEH member – Xiangyu Jiang (Ph.D. Candidate) who was awarded the Barry Fallon Memorial International Student Assistance Award.
The award was made possible under the generous donation of the estate of Barry Fallon, UB, doctorate of Psychology, 1974, who returned to his native Australia to become an eminent teacher and researcher and president of the Australian Psychological Society (1994 – 1996). This award is used to support International Students. This award represents a singular recognition by the department of geography and the College of Arts and Science.
New publication on Current Biology: A vast 4,000-year-old spatial pattern of termite mounds. This study explored the large-scale self-organization of a vast array of soil mounds constructed by termites (Syntermes dirus) that has persisted for up to 4000 years and covers an estimated 230,000 km² of seasonally dry tropical forest in a relatively undisturbed and climatically stable region of Northeast Brazil.
This work received immediate attention from both science fields and mass media once published. The Washington Post reported this work on science section and Dr. Yoo, one of the corresponding author of the study, was interviewed to disscuss the scientific findings. News coverage is entitled: “This ‘wonder of the Earth’ is the size of Minnesota and built by bugs” and is reported by Ben Guarino, a science reporter.
- A similar report can be also found New York Times.
- A video abstract can be found at Youtube.
- Continuous report from UB News Center “In a vast, ancient network of termite mounds, UB geographer finds a pattern“
GeoEH member Xiangyu Jiang (Ph.D. candidate) is selected for oral presentation at 2018 CMAS. Her presentation is entitled: “Modeling PM2.5 concentrations from wildland fires for health impact assessments”.
Session: Modeling to Support Exposure and Health Studies and Community-scale Applications.
Time & Location: 9:10AM Oct.24, 2018 at Grumman Auditorium, UNC.