Saturday May 14, 2016

Invasive earthworms threaten forest diversity

Stealthy European invaders

Stealthy European invaders (Edu-Pic.net)

Download Podcast

Earthworms may be good for the garden, but a new study by Dr. Peter Kotanen, a biology professor from the University of Toronto, Mississauga, has found that the abundant invasive species is damaging forest ecosystems and changing forest diversity.

Much of the harm they cause is the result of seed predation, as well as the removal of the leaf cover that many plants rely on, in order to take root. The worms are eating the seeds of tree species, such as yellow birch and black cherry, as well as seeds of many wild flowers.

In an experimental area, the researchers found that over a two week period, 73 percent of seeds had been removed from the soil surface or pushed too deeply underground to germinate. 

Related Links

Paper in Biological Invasions
- University of Toronto release
- New Scientist story