Several species of exotic earthworms are invading eastern forests. These earthworms consume the organic horizons of the forest floor, often removing leaf litter within several years of invasion. This leads to important changes in soil carbon, nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and calcium), soil microclimate, hydrology, soil organisms, and plant community assemblages.
The Northern Research Station is characterizing ecosystem responses across a range of earthworm species densities in maple and hemlock dominated forest systems, and monitoring earthworm invasion fronts located in the Huron Mountains in northern Marquette County, MI.
The Southern Research Station is examining the relationship between invasive shrubs (Chinese privet) and exotic earthworms in riparian forests on the Southern Piedmont in Virginia, and evaluating the recovery of native earthworm species when the invasive shrubs are removed. Researchers at the Southern Research Station have found that exotic earthworms compete with native soil macrofauna in the southern Appalachians. To learn more, contact Mac Callaham, Team Leader and Research Ecologist at the Center for Forest Disturbance Science.
In 2006, the International Institute of Tropical Forestry in Puerto Rico hosted the second Latin American symposium on invasive earthworms: Earthworms as Invasive Species in Latin America. This remains one of the most valuable data sources on exotic earthworms in the tropics of North and South America.
Find research publications about exotic earthworms on Treesearch.