Friday, 28 May 2010

Invasive Earthworms - not such friendly soil munchers?

I saw this link on the Bioinvasion and Ecoservices blog: it is a BBC news article about a very interesting paper just out that shows Earthworms actually eat seeds and seedlings, not just dead matter.  This has major implications for the spread of the humble Earthworm that is making is way (with the help of people, of course) from Europe across other continents.  Although there always going to be benefits of worms, such as nutrient cycling, their presence in new landscapes may potentially cause plant species extinction as the worms begin to eat their seedling which previously had no 'predators'.

N. Eisenhauer, O. Butenschoen, S. Radsick and S. Scheu (in press, May 2010) Earthworms as seedling predators: Importance of seeds and seedlings for earthworm nutrition Soil Biology and Biochemistry 
(image found on the Mad Science website)

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