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Earthworm colonization…

September 24, 2012

Here is a portion of (and link to) an interesting article on earthworms, their initially human induced spread around the world, and how different species are currently competing and adapting to foreign lands. If the history of human colonization had been focused a bit more on the proper utilization of waste biomass the world might be a better place today…

(From the BBC)

Earthworms are generally considered to be good news. As highly effective composters, they are often referred to as the “best friend” of gardeners and farmers.

Earthworms break down and recycle decaying plant matter, and loosen, mix and fertilise soil by bringing nutrients closer to the surface. But their efficiency is not always so welcome.

There is a global earthworm invasion taking place. Alien species of the slow-moving, innocuous-looking creatures have conquered almost every continent.

They are out-competing native wildlife, adapting to deforested and cultivated soils more effectively than native species, and changing soil structure.

The race is now on to understand how they are doing it and, more importantly, what damage they may be causing.

Read full article on BBC: Earthworm Invasion

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2012 10:08:05 am

    This is so interesting. I’m going to post the link to my own blog along with one about the New Zealand flatworm invasion of Scotland.

  2. September 24, 2012 10:08:08 am

    I’m glad you liked it. I’ll be sure to check out your related article. Sounds interesting.

    • September 24, 2012 10:08:15 am

      Oh good! Turns out that I was mistaken to mention the NZ flatworm as if it were invading only Scotland: in fact it’s all over the British Isles. My first thought about it was Scotland because I have a Scottish coauthor who works on earthworms and other soil worms.

  3. eqfe permalink
    September 24, 2012 10:08:29 am

    In 1491 there were no earthworms in the Americas. Overtime the have spead, but not across the whole of the continents. There are native trees, who’s seeds have a tough time germinating in soil containing earthworms which “improve” the soil for most plant species.

    • September 24, 2012 10:08:43 am

      Yes, the things colonizers bring with them while conquesting foreign lands can have dramatic, ongoing, and often unseen implications, for better or for worse. It is believed European earthworms first made their way to North American shores in the ballast of ships (soil was often used for ballast). The European honey bee was also brought over during the same period, at a time when nothing was known about the bee’s role in pollination, only that they produced honey. Imagine Italian food without tomatoes (which are native to the Americas)!


  1. Invasive worms | Science on the Land

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