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Data from: How the thermal environment shapes the structure of termite mounds

Cite this dataset

Fagundes, Tadeu M; Ordonez, Juan; Yaghoobian, Neda (2019). Data from: How the thermal environment shapes the structure of termite mounds [Dataset]. Dryad.


A computational model has been developed to predict the role of environment in the forms and functions of termite mounds. The proposed model considers the most relevant forces involved in the heat transfer process of termite mounds, while also reflects their gasexchange function. The method adopts a system configuration procedure to determine thermally optimized mound structures. The model successfully predicts the main architectural characteristics of typical Macrotermes michaelseni mounds for the environmental conditions they live in. The results indicate that the mound superstructure and internal condition strongly depend on the combined effect of environmental forces. It is noted that mounds being exposed to higher solar irradiances develop intricate lateral channels, inside, and taller and more pronounced spire tilt towards the sun, outside. It is also found that the mounds’ spire tilt angle depends on the geographical location, following the local average solar zenith angle for strong irradiances. Although wind does not influence the overall over-ground mound shape, it significantly affects the mound internal condition. The results of this study resonate with what is seen in nature. The proposed approach provides a broader view of the factors that are effective in the form and function of a naturally made structure.

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United States