How termites help rainforests survive climate change
The insects get a bad rap, but in a Borneo rainforest “they’re like ecological insurance”
Trees, some of the tallest in the world, towered above Hannah Griffiths and her colleagues each morning as they tramped deep into a pristine patch of rainforest in the Maliau Basin in Borneo. Birds sang and wildlife ambled across their paths. One day, a sun bear skittered across the path in front of them. Another day, a king cobra slithered by.
But the scientists walked past, crossing suspension bridges and pushing deeper into the forest, where they had set up a set of experiments to look at the ecological effects of smaller, less flashy creatures: termites.
As luck would have it, they started their experiment when the forest was gripped by an extreme drought, during the 2015-2016 El