Earthworms can jump

A worm is a worm is a worm, right? Except that there are more than 7,000 species of worms, and the longer you look, the more complex their world becomes. Earthworms compete. Earthworms invade. Earthworms… jump? “Invasive Asian jumping worms got their name because of the way they thrash around,” says Mac Callaham, a Forest…  More 

Earthworm diversity linked to latitude and isolation

Earthworms don’t get enough attention, according to USDA Forest Service research ecologist Mac Callaham. “Earthworms have profound influences on soil habitat and other soil animals,” says Callaham. “They’re called ecosystem engineers. Their behavior and influence can help us understand how the systems are functioning and how we can best manage natural resources.” But until we…  More 

Temperature Drives Invasive Asian Earthworm’s Hatching Success

Amynthas agrestis is an Asian earthworm that has become increasingly abundant in North American forests. The earthworms consume massive quantities of leaf litter, disrupt established food webs, and outcompete native species. Ideas for control have been limited by the lack of information on their life history traits, such as optimal hatching temperature. With UGA graduate…  More 

Invasive Earthworms in the Food Web

Imagine walking through a forest, with leaves crunching beneath your feet. Underneath those crunchy leaves is a complex ecological realm. “Soil is teeming with life,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Mac Callaham. “Most people don’t think about it because they don’t see the soil fauna.” Soil fauna includes centipedes, millipedes, springtails, nematodes, insect larvae,…  More 

Earthworms, Millipedes, and Soil Carbon in the Eastern U.S.

Ubiquitous in the southeastern U.S., native earthworms are absent from the northern part of the country. It wasn’t always so, but tens of thousands of years ago glaciers crept across the land, and earthworms below them froze to death. Because earthworms are slow travelers, they have not naturally recolonized the areas where glaciers were present.…  More 

Interrrupting an Invasional Meltdown

Earthworms have been described as “ecosystem engineers” because they can transform soil environments in ways – physical, chemical, and biological – that in turn lead to aboveground ecological changes. Most of the 8,000 species of the world’s earthworms stay in areas where they evolved, some occupying very narrow niches, but about 120 “cosmopolitan” or “peregrine”…  More 

SRS Hosts 10th International Symposium on Earthworm Ecology, June 22-27

This week, from June 22 to 27, the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Center for Forest Disturbance Science (CFDS) is hosting the 10th International Symposium on Earthworm Ecology (ISEE) in Athens, Georgia. This is only the second time the symposium, which is held every four years, has met in the United States. More than…  More 

The Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory

From surface to core, the Earth’s radius is almost 4,000 miles, but only the uppermost sliver of that rocky expanse, called the critical zone, sustains life. This zone extends from the base of weathered rock to the treetops, and includes water, soils, vegetation, and animals.   A new study, led by Duke University and funded…  More