Tag Archives: earthworms

First European earthworm map

In 2015, as part of the International Year of Soils, scientists from eight different countries, including Spain, created the first large-scale European map of earthworm abundance and diversity in addition to distribution maps of widespread earthworm species such as Aporrectodea caliginosa and Lumbricus terrestris.

In recent years, “the classification of edaphic invertebrates and their distribution patterns have not received priority for funding, meaning that a lot of information from unpublished studies has not been digitised,” comments María Jesús Briones, a researcher at the University of Vigo and one of the authors of the study. In addition, these animals -affected by the use of soils- were not well documented in the records, but their presence and role in the ecosystem greatly enhance the quality of the soils where they live.

France, Ireland and Germany were the top countries to gather information regarding the biodiversity of these invertebrates -France collected data from 1,423 locations- thanks to access to substantial funding to study the entire territory. On the other hand, there is still a lot to be done in Spain. “The study is the first step to creating a database of European earthworms, which needs to be improved on,” point out the authors. Given its environmental importance -being a reflection of the quality of their habitat-, the study strives for a better understanding of these invertebrate communities in addition to improved monitoring.

Photo Caption: The new worm map

The post First European earthworm map appeared first on Hort News on 26 February 2016.

Earthworms could be a threat to biodiversity

The humble earthworm may be a threat to plant diversity in certain natural ecosystems says a new study.

Researchers from Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke in Canada showed a correlation between the presence of these invertebrates and reductions in the abundance of certain tree and other plant species in the understory of sugar maple forests in southern Québec in Canada. However, this is situation is based on geography as earthworms were introduced to Canada from Europe.

“The most likely explanation is that the earthworms consume organic matter in forest litter,” suggests Line Lapointe, a professor at Université Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and the study’s lead author. This results in soils that can’t hold as much moisture, and that in turn interferes with seed germination and the ability of some species’ plantlets to survive.”

The researchers added, ‘The earthworms found in [North American] lawns, gardens, and farmers’ fields, as well as those raised for bait, all belong to species that were brought here, intentionally or otherwise, by Europeans settlers. Their geographical distribution is closely tied to human activity.’

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

The post Earthworms could be a threat to biodiversity appeared first on Hort News.