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Invasive worms


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Very few invaisives or exotics prove to be beneficial. My first reaction is who cares, its a worm... but that worm will push native species out or bring a pathogen that is not balanced by a predator. After all, zebra mussels make the water nice and clear right?

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Neat topic. Although I am no expert on worms, I do study ecology as a graduate student and can offer some insight surrounding the notion of invasive worms.

You guys are right: it is a rare known fact that most of the worms we see in gardens around here are introduced, and have thus have become established as an invasive species. Ecologists debate as to whether or not they are "good" or "bad" for the environment, so i will present both sides.

1. Good: Earth worms are referred to as detritavores, so they consume non-living organic mater and the microbes contained within it. In doing so, they fragment organic matter (think of how they chomp on leaves), and increase the organic matter's surface area. As a result, the bacteria and fungi can break down this material at faster rates, and as they decompose this material the nutrients are within it release (P and N). Of course, plants grab these nutrients with their roots to grow. So this is the plus side!

2.Negative: In general, worms come to the surface layers of soil at night, feed and mate, then head deep down into the soil during the day to avoid predators. This causes a translocation of organic material (which will ultimately feul plant growth as it is decomposed) to deeper soil layers. As a result, nutrient cycles are greatly altered in ways that plants are not adapted to.

Maybe that will offer some help

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RiverEco - good explaination. They're generally recognized as good for your garden but a major problem in hardwood forests, especially those full of hard/sugar Maples. Not the trees but the ground cover can be greatly affected. Follow some of the links for UofMn explanations.

Kind of neat that here's "another" that can be blammed on ship ballast. Apparently years & years ago, ships used dirt & rock as ballast so UofMn thought is that the soil may have contained worm eggs.

All I really know is that (1) they're squirmy/slimmy (2) they're expensive (3) Fish love them (4) girls generally don't love them.


Tom B.


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