New Invaders to Hardwood Forests: Discovering Jumping Worms (Amynthas) at the Lillian Anderson Arboretum
Rock, Katherine E.
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As detritivores and soil aerators, earthworms can be beneficial for gardening and composting. Alongside these benefits, earthworms can negatively impact forest ecosystems by ridding the soil of organic matter and nutrients. In the Great Lakes region, all earthworms are nonnative but jumping worms (genus Amynthas) are recent invaders that are spreading rapidly and impacting soil health. I mapped the abundance and distribution of earthworm types at the Lillian Anderson Arboretum (LAA) in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and recorded soil characteristics in sampled plots. I documented six different types of earthworms. Amynthas was found in one area of human impact and was associated with deeper litter depths than was Lumbricus, the most common genus; no other soil variables (litter type; soil temperature, moisture, pH; abundance of macroinvertebrates) differed between plot where the two genera were found. The presence and expansion of Amynthas should continue to be monitored to determine if and how it is impacting forest ecosystems.