by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Sep 06, 2011
It is widely acknowledged that human beings are largely responsible for the widespread alteration of ecosystems on the planet. A recent study by Dara Seidl and Peter Klepeis of Colgate University in New York traces the ways in which humans are the principal agents of dispersal of exotic earthworms in the forests of Northern America.
Their findings, published online in Springer's journal Human Ecology, suggest that humans spread earthworms both inadvertently via horticulture and land disturbance, in the tires and underbodies of vehicles, but also knowingly through composting and careless disposal of fish bait.
Non-native species of earthworms can have a detrimental effect on the flora and fauna of the forests. They can be responsible for accelerating the breakdown of the organic material on the surface of the forest floor, thereby reducing the habitat for the animals living there and possibly increasing soil erosion.
The researchers conducted a case study in Webb, NY, a large township in the Adirondack State Park, home to the largest unbroken temperate forest in the world.
They first analyzed the environmental history of the area and followed this up with a mail survey of 150 Webb residents to assess their recreation and environmental practices related to earthworm dispersal.
The authors found that the introduction of exotic earthworm species can be traced as far back as European settlers arriving in North America and dumping ship ballast, a mixture of soil and gravel, onto the land.
Today, the main culprits are recreational fishing, gardening, composting and the movement of egg cases on vehicles which are mostly to blame for their continued spread.
The authors conclude that even the most environmentally conscious individuals do not currently realize what a threat these earthworms pose.
They suggest that, in particular, gardening clubs and convenience stores which sell worms to anglers should be targeted with information and that "the public needs to be empowered to implement behavior that helps mitigate the introduction of earthworms."
Seidl DE and Klepeis P. Human dimensions of earthworm invasion in the Adirondack State Park. Human Ecology 2011. DOI 10.1007/s10745-011-9422-y
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
60% of deforested Amazon used for cattle: study
Brasilia (AFP) Sept 3, 2011
More than 60 percent of deforested areas of the Brazilian Amazon forest are used for grazing cattle, while only five percent is used for agriculture, a new government study said. From research of satellite imagery, Brazilian officials found of the 719,000 square kilometers (277,000 square miles) cleared up to 2008, a whopping 62 percent was left as just grass, and that the use amounted to on ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|