- The Surales, self-organized earth-mound landscapes made by earthworms
- The formation, functioning and emergent properties of patterned landscapes have recently drawn increased attention, notably in semi-arid ecosystems. We describe and analyze a set of similarly spectacular landforms in seasonal tropical wetlands. Surales landscapes, comprised of densely packed, regularly spaced mounds, cover large areas of the Orinoco Llanos. Although descriptions of surales date back to the 1940’s, their ecology is virtually unknown. Mounds are largely comprised of earthworm casts. Recognizable, recently produced casts account for up to one-half of total soil mass. Locally, mounds are relatively constant in size, but vary greatly across sites in diameter (0.5–5 m) and height (from 0.3 m to over 2 m). Our results suggest that one earthworm species drives self-organizing processes that produce keystone structures determining ecosystem functioning and development.
Pictures and a Google Earth movie can be seen by clicking on the feature on the map (left menu, popup). Zooming in on points of occurrence of surales allows seeing the surales on satellite images.
- CEFE, CNRS
- Rumsais BLATRIX
- rumsais.blatrix (at) cefe.cnrs.fr
- -73.6650876006, 2.132429129760866, -62.11508760059999, 10.296342173239136