The biological significance of Magnetic Termite mounds
The “Magnetic Termite” Amitermes meridionalis occurs only in a small part of the Northern Territory of Australia and builds famous wedge-shaped mounds with an elongated axis that is orientated in a striking north-south direction. This shape is unique among all other termite mounds which are always more or less spherical and many hypotheses have been advanced to explain the remarkable shape and orientation. Most of these investigations focus on the orientation, but the biological significance of the shape is rarely explored. The currently accepted hypothesis considers shape and orientation as adaptation to maintain a thermo stable eastern face. In contrast to this we consider habitat conditions, such as heavy rainfalls and regularly flooding in the wet season, as most important for the evolution of this shape.
Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory, Australia