Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Forests under threat from exotic earthworm invasion: Study shows humans to blame for spread of non-native species

Date:
September 1, 2011
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
It is widely acknowledged that human beings are largely responsible for the widespread alteration of ecosystems on the planet. A recent study traces the ways in which humans are the principal agents of dispersal of exotic earthworms in the forests of Northern America. Their findings suggest that humans spread earthworms both inadvertently via horticulture and land disturbance, in the tires and underbodies of vehicles, but also knowingly through composting and careless disposal of fish bait.

It is widely acknowledged that human beings are largely responsible for the widespread alteration of ecosystems on the planet. A recent study by Dara Seidl and Peter Klepeis of Colgate University in New York traces the ways in which humans are the principal agents of dispersal of exotic earthworms in the forests of Northern America.

Related Articles


Their findings, published online in Springer's journal Human Ecology, suggest that humans spread earthworms both inadvertently via horticulture and land disturbance, in the tires and underbodies of vehicles, but also knowingly through composting and careless disposal of fish bait.

Non-native species of earthworms can have a detrimental effect on the flora and fauna of the forests. They can be responsible for accelerating the breakdown of the organic material on the surface of the forest floor, thereby reducing the habitat for the animals living there and possibly increasing soil erosion.

The researchers conducted a case study in Webb, NY, a large township in the Adirondack State Park, home to the largest unbroken temperate forest in the world. They first analyzed the environmental history of the area and followed this up with a mail survey of 150 Webb residents to assess their recreation and environmental practices related to earthworm dispersal.

The authors found that the introduction of exotic earthworm species can be traced as far back as European settlers arriving in North America and dumping ship ballast, a mixture of soil and gravel, onto the land. Today, the main culprits are recreational fishing, gardening, composting and the movement of egg cases on vehicles which are mostly to blame for their continued spread.

The authors conclude that even the most environmentally conscious individuals do not currently realize what a threat these earthworms pose. They suggest that, in particular, gardening clubs and convenience stores which sell worms to anglers should be targeted with information and that "the public needs to be empowered to implement behavior that helps mitigate the introduction of earthworms."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dara E. Seidl, Peter Klepeis. Human Dimensions of Earthworm Invasion in the Adirondack State Park. Human Ecology, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s10745-011-9422-y

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Forests under threat from exotic earthworm invasion: Study shows humans to blame for spread of non-native species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901104930.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2011, September 1). Forests under threat from exotic earthworm invasion: Study shows humans to blame for spread of non-native species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901104930.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Forests under threat from exotic earthworm invasion: Study shows humans to blame for spread of non-native species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901104930.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Scientists Say Earliest Snakes Lived Alongside The Dinosaurs

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) Wrongly categorized as lizard fossils, snake fossils now show the reptile could have developed earlier than we thought — 70 million years earlier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Time Lapse: Sculptures Created from 30 Tons of Snow

Time Lapse: Sculptures Created from 30 Tons of Snow

Rumble (Jan. 28, 2015) Students in North Finland use 30 tons of snow and one ton of ice to build a massive photography display and sculpture installation. Five days of work condensed into a one-minute time lapse! Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Ancient techniques of growing greens with fish and water are well ahead of Toronto bylaws. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Locust Plague Could Mean Famine For Millions

Madagascar Locust Plague Could Mean Famine For Millions

Newsy (Jan. 27, 2015) The Food and Agriculture Organization says millions could face famine in Madagascar without more funding to finish locust eradication efforts. Video provided by Newsy
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