The Trouble with Worms

Earthworms can damage our forests!

They eat the layer of organic materials that covers the forest floor. This "duff" layer provides a home for insects, small mammals, native plants and tree seedlings, and even birds! 

When worms eat this layer, the forest ecology is disturbed and ground vegetation and forest understory is replaced with "bare soil." 

Non-native plants then replace native plants, and native forest creatures lose their shelter and food supply. 

In the Midwest of the United States, the ecology of forests near lakes has been altered with worms discarded by fishermen. 

For a complete discussion of this problem, see
Conover, Adele.  Foreign Worm Alert. Smithsonian Magazine.
August 2000.
(June 9, 2005)

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