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Why is Rudolp's nose red?

Tales of Termites

Termites are one of the planet's best recyclers. Yes, we usually think of these insects as something that destroy homes and need to be exterminated. It turns out that these critters are tiny 'green machines' that are critical to the planet. Dr. Biology learns about the history, social nature, and the important role termites have from entomologist, Barbara Thorn.

Content Info | Transcript


MP3 download | 14MB

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Topic Time
Introduction. 00:00
Why do we talk about insects so much? 01:08
Why do you study termites? 01:40
Tropical rainforest termites. 02:24
Termites help aerate soil. 04:02
More reasons termites are important to study. 04:15
What happens when colonies of termites meet? 06:28
Evolution of termites. 08:13
Social insects and Darwin's natural selection. 09:08
Learning about science. 10:54
Think of science like a video game. 12:09
How did you start working on termites? 12:42
Did you know you'd stick with termites? 13:15
The benefits of basic research. 14:00
Science mixed with business. 14:42
How many patents do you have? 17:09
New ideas that turn into a societal benefit. 17:14
Explaining "eusocial." 17:54
Non-insect eusocial animals. 20:22
Are termites long-lived in the eusocial world? 21:15
Have respect for termites. 23:05
Three questions. 23:49
When did you know you wanted to be a biologist? 23:56
If you couldn't be a biologist, what would you be? 25:57
What advice would you have for a students looking to get into science? 27:42
Sign-off. 28:36

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Tales of Termites

Audio editor: CJ Kazilek

Termite in amber

Fossilized termite trapped in amber. Image via ZooKeys.

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Termite in amber

Fossilized termite trapped in amber. Image via ZooKeys.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.