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Elephants' footprints provide homes for frogs

National Geographic

At least 20 other species use pileated woodpeckers' nests as their own, making the birds a keystone species in their ecosystem. Nothing in the wild goes to waste--not even a footprint. It turns out that Asian elephant tracks serve as important as nurseries for frog eggs and tadpoles during the dry season in Myanmar, according to a study in the journal Mammalia published in print last month. Some tracks didn't hold much, "maybe soda can's worth of water," says co-author David Bickford, a biologist at the University of LaVerne, in California, via email. Sometimes, though, multiple tracks were "laid together in'strips,' hence became more attractive for the females to lay eggs in."


Chimpanzees develop their own local cultures and customs by imitating each other, researchers reveal

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Researchers have found new evidence that chimpanzees develop their own local cultures and communities, and pass on certain behaviors to their offspring to ensure they'll fit in with the local customs. The research was conducted by a team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, which gathered data from more than 40 well-known chimpanzee research sites across Africa. They analyzed footage from hidden cameras, ecological data, and specific site samples to catalogue the ways different chimpanzee groups exhibited community specific behaviors that otherwise had no productive advantages. The researchers specifically looked at termite'fishing,' a practice whereby chimpanzees try to get the small insects out of their nests for extra nutrients and calories. 'The diversity of techniques seen in chimpanzee termite fishing was a huge surprise to me,' the Max Planck Institute's Christophe Boesch said in an interview with its news blog.


Chimps have local culture differences when it comes to eating termites

New Scientist

How many ways are there to get a termite to run up a stick? A surprising variety, it turns out. A new analysis of how chimpanzees perform this "termite fishing" has revealed that different groups of the animals have distinct dining cultures, similar to how chopstick use in humans differs across the world. The idea that non-human animals can even have culture in the sense that humans have it – behaviours and social norms that vary by group – has been controversial. Carel van Schaik at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, who wasn't involved in the research, says the work confirmed beyond any doubt that the variation that has been found among chimpanzees is cultural.


TinyTermite: A Secure Routing Algorithm on Intel Mote 2 Sensor Network Platform

AAAI Conferences

In this paper, we introduce TinyTermite. TinyTermite is a novel AI routing algorithm that is reliable and secure against selective forwarding and replay attacks. TinyTermite is fully implemented on TinyOS based Intel Mote 2 platform and the experiments were done to compare its performance with that of the traditional Termite algorithm.  Our results show that the TinyTermite reduces the energy consumption by more than 30% and enhances the security of the network. The experimental results show that TinyTermite is significantly more secure against replay and sinkhole attacks by lowering the packet loss from 88.5% to 32.9% with 12.7% normal packet loss. Finally, the experimental results also demonstrates that the TinyTermite provides high throughput and low latency.


Mysterious fairy circles in Namibian desert explained at last

New Scientist

The Namib desert is covered with regular patterns of bare circles whose origin is fiercely debated by researchers – but it now seems both leading explanations may be right. One camp claims the empty patches, known as fairy circles, are created by termites under the soil that clear vegetation in the area around their nests. By making the soil porous, the argument goes, they establish permanent reservoirs of rainwater 50 centimetres below the surface, which sustains them and the surrounding ecosystem. An alternative idea is that the circles are explained by plants competing for water. Plants help their nearest neighbours by creating shade and maintaining water on the soil's surface, but hinder those further away by growing long roots that extract water from the soil.