Appreciation: Thoughts about Earthworms

Discussion in 'Celebrate Biodiversity' started by Margot, Jan 28, 2021.

  1. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    The isolation of these uncertain times can lead one to ruminate on strange and esoteric subjects – me anyway. My wandering thoughts lately have focussed on earthworms. This came about after a friend sent me a video which reminded me of an article I read years ago about the danger of introduced earthworms - especially in forest environments. It’s not a topic you often hear discussed so I’ve been doing a little reading to try and learn how big a threat they may be.

    As usual, I started with E-Flora BC or E-Fauna BC.
    Introduction to the Earthworms

    Here’s quote that caught my attention:
    Darwin (1881) estimated that between 7 1/2 and 18 tons of soil per acre per year (about 3 cm per 10 years) can be moved, and the burial of many Roman ruins in Europe has been attributed to the activities of earthworms (Atkinson, 1957).

    As a gardener, I am predisposed to like earthworms but, out of about 24 species roaming the Province of BC, only 4 are native. My loyalties are divided if I think some of them are causing more harm than good. So far I have learned that a.) not all introduced species are equally damaging and that b.) Red Wiggler Worms, the denizen of many a compost pile, are not threatening. There is still much more to read and learn.

    Native BC Earthworm species:
    Arctiostrotus perrieri (Bentham, 1892) *
    Arctiostrotus vancouverensis McKey-Fender, 1994 *
    Toutellus oregonensis (Smith, 1937) *
    Bimastos lawrenceae Fender, 1994 *
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2021
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  2. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Gosh he talks fast, but I enjoyed the video and learnt something new, I never new that Noth America did not have native earthworms. It just shows once again how fragile everything around us is when what can be looked in as an innocent introduction can be devastating to the local eco system.
    Regarding Darwin's quote, it shows why you have to dig so deep to find Roman remains.
    Thanks for the thread Margot.
     
  3. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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  4. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I don't know about the rest of North America but these 4 species are native to British Columbia. My new best friends - I guess - we haven't been introduced yet.

    Native BC Earthworm species:
    Arctiostrotus perrieri (Bentham, 1892) *
    Arctiostrotus vancouverensis McKey-Fender, 1994 *
    Toutellus oregonensis (Smith, 1937) *
    Bimastos lawrenceae Fender, 1994 *
     
  5. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  7. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    This is so interesting; I'd like to know more. Will it be destroyed when (or if) the HS2 high-speed rail line goes through?
     
  8. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Yes like so much it will be lost forever.
     
  9. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    This conversation brought to mind an encounter I had with a very large earthworm in the Vancouver traffic circle garden that I care for. It must have been around a year ago. There was a heavy frost, but strong morning sunshine was warming everything. A large earthworm slithered out of the ground and up onto a small branch and streched out in the sunshine. I thought it was odd that an earthworm would emerge from the frosty ground. Could it actually be sunning itself? I was also stunned by the size of this one. It looked to be about 30cm long and it was not fully streched out. It stayed there motionless for a few minutes and went back for a camera. Of course, it was gone when I returned.

    Not a giant earthworm surely, but the biggest I have ever seen. And the way it "climbed" up on the branch and streched out in the sun--almost snake-like. I never noticed such above ground behavior before.
     
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  10. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    It doesn't matter how long we have been around, there is always something in nature to surprise us all. Nice story Eric.
     

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