Deceitful Worms

Over the weekend, I was hiking with my friend in Hocking Hills. As we were going up a hill she pointed out all the dried up bare of plants forest floor and she called out the earthworms. I was curious to learn more from this article. For as long as I can remember I have always thought the best of earthworms and their contribution to our gardens. Well… I was way off. In northern parts of the country (Great Lakes Region) where most of the land was covered in glaciers, the worms were completely wiped out. Eventually, the forest and vegetation adapted to an environment that would be sustainable without earthworms. Now, due to extensive trading and importing from overseas, many worms native to Asia have infiltrated the Americas and are causing great distress within the forests. So how do they do it? They change the forest soils composition from fungal to mainly bacterial, and in doing so, deplete the thick organic mat of nutrient required for plants to grow in the understory. The worms do this so quickly, that they typically leave one or two species of flora at most, and a depleted amount of tree seedlings. Below is a transformation that can be seen at places like Hocking Hills State Park.

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