Whatever signals trigger the the exodus of termite alates into nuptial flight, Jalbil (Boyd’s Forest Dragon) will be at the ready. As fully-developed adults, with darkpigments and compound eyes, winged king and queen termites take to flight in their thousands. As has previously been described, Jalbil specialises in the acquisition of energy from sources other than radiation from the sun. Awareness of the signals that foretell of the termite’s reproductive flight places Jalbil is in the right place for a royal feast.
Termites play a critical ecological role in Daintree Rainforest by breaking down cellulose and lignin from dead plant material, recycling nutrients through nest construction that ultimately enriches the forest floor through the erosion of mounds. Their respiration contributes CO2 into the air and through nitrogen-fixing bacteria inhabiting the gut of termites, their excreta enriches humus with nitrates.
Rainforest termite mounds are used by Kingfishers for nesting. The terrestrial mound (above) is the exclusive choice for the migratory Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, whilst arboreal termite mounds are preferred by Forest Kingfishers. For the requirements of the termite communities, mounds are constructed and maintained to control temperature and humidity. The incursion of an access tunnel by a kingfisher brings light into the darkness, eliciting a swift worker-response through the congealing of the inner walls, producing perfect conditions for incubation.