Implications of a Potential Range Expansion of Invasive Earthworms in Ontarios Forested Ecosystems: A Preliminary Vulnerability Analysis - CCRR23

Summary

The earthworm is a well known ecological engineer, famous for its ability to ingest and integrate soils through different layers, for its contribution to agricultural productivity, for its role as food for wildlife, and for its use by anglers as fish bait. Although no native earthworm species exist in Ontario (native North American earthworm populations are thought to have been extirpated by the Wisconsinan glaciers and re-colonization by southern populations has not occurred), many earthworm species have been accidentally or intentionally introduced. At present, 17 non-native European and two North American (non-native to Ontario) earthworm species survive in the province. Since their arrival, earthworms have been used to enhance soil productivity in agro-ecosystems and urban areas. Conversely, most forested ecosystems in Ontario have evolved without earthworms and their introduction and establishment could significantly alter forest soil structure, chemistry, and biodiversity, including understory vegetation, soil fauna, and belowground fungal communities.

Published Date: January 30, 2012
Publisher: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Author: Applied Research and Development Branch

Details

Implications of a Potential Range Expansion of Invasive Earthworms in Ontarios Forested Ecosystems: A Preliminary Vulnerability Analysis - CCRR23
ISBN: 978-1-4435-8441-8   (PDF) 1.58 MB