Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Invasive Roly-polys Might Actually Help The Soil, Study Reveals

Date:
April 20, 2005
Source:
Johns Hopkins University
Summary:
A 22-year-old Johns Hopkins undergraduate and native of Ellicott City, Md. is playing an important role in ascertaining the role that terrestrial isopods — bugs commonly known as pillbugs, sowbugs and roly-polys — play in the recycling of nutrients in forest ecosystems.

Katarina Juhaszova and Katalin Szlavecz.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins University

A 22-year-old Johns Hopkins undergraduate and native of Ellicott City, Md. is playing an important role in ascertaining the role that terrestrial isopods — bugs commonly known as pillbugs, sowbugs and roly-polys — play in the recycling of nutrients in forest ecosystems.

Related Articles


Katarina Juhaszova's original research, focusing on the effect that several species of isopods have on soil nutrients, has been funded with support from a Johns Hopkins Provost's Undergraduate Research Award (PURA). As one of 45 PURA winners this academic year, Juhaszova presented the results of her research at an awards ceremony held at Johns Hopkins on March 10.

Since 1993, about 40 students each year have received PURA grants of up to $3,000 to conduct original research, some results of which have been published in professional journals. The awards, funded through donations from the Hodson Trust, are an important part of the university's commitment to undergraduate research.

Knowing that isopods are not native to the Mid- Atlantic region (they were brought to America during European colonization), Juhaszova wondered what effect — if any — the small creatures were having on the nutritional composition of forest soil, which, over time, can lead to changes in the forests' plant and animal composition.

Working under the guidance of sponsor Katalin Szlavecz, associate scientist in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Juhaszova ventured into local forests, where she studied the impact that six species of isopods had on the rate at which leaf litter (which provides food for the creatures) disappeared. In laboratory experiments, she also examined how the isopods' feeding activity alters the soil's organic matter content and nitrogen availability.

What she learned surprised her.

"We found that instead of depleting the nutrients in the soil, which is what has happened with some invasive species, the isopods actually are having the opposite effect," Juhaszova said. "Their droppings produce a good source of carbon for the microbes there, promoting their growth."

Szlavecz calls her student's results "certainly interesting and worth investigating further."

"We know that a sudden influx of non-native detritivores (creatures that eat leaf litter and other detritus) is likely to change the nutrient availability of forests over time, and not always for the better," Szlavecz said. "That's the case with earthworms; though they promote the decomposition of organic nitrogen, they do it at a rate that is so high that eventually nitrogen can be lost from the forests. What we are getting from Katy's research is that isopods have the opposite effect. Though it would be far-fetched and pompous for us to draw some big conclusions regarding the whole ecosystem level process based on Katy's data, it certainly is worth further scrutiny."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University. "Invasive Roly-polys Might Actually Help The Soil, Study Reveals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050326102702.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University. (2005, April 20). Invasive Roly-polys Might Actually Help The Soil, Study Reveals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050326102702.htm
Johns Hopkins University. "Invasive Roly-polys Might Actually Help The Soil, Study Reveals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050326102702.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins