Earthworm Invasion Damages Trees

BY Jenny Marder  September 16, 2011 at 8:36 AM EST


The wrong kind of earthworm can upset the chemistry and nutrient dynamics of soil, damaging plant and tree growth, scientists say. Researchers have linked an invasive species of earthworms to stunted tree growth in parts of the Western Great Lakes region, an area with no native earthworms, according to the National Science Foundation’s latest Science Nation.*

In this video, Ecologist Cindy Hale of the Natural Resources Research Institute explains how earthworms changes the chemistry, nutrient dynamics and habitat for organisms that live in soil.

“Worms literally eat the rooting zone out from underneath the plants, removing habitat for seeds, young plants, even small animals,” Miles O’Brien reports.

*For the record, the National Science Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour.