if they are introduced to an area that didn’t have them before?
Hey Pipicus Lambicus, great question. Indeed, earthworms, usually thought to be sure sign of healthy soil, actually can wreak havock in ecosystems that have not had earthworms in them for thousands of year. For example, much of the forested regions in northern North America have not had earthworms in them since the last Ice Age, 12,000 or so years ago. So without an active detrivore such as an earthworm to breakdown organic matter, this task was left to fungi and bacteria which achieved this task as at a much slower rate, allowing for more build-up of leaf litter and detrital material, which in northern forests is called a “duff layer”. Wtih earthworms, this duff layer gets aerated, turned over and turned into soil. While this process may seem beneficial it actually upsets a balance of plants and animlas that has evolved over thousands of years, and so worm free northern forests have less subject to invasives, have more diversity in the understory and can support better the native populations of fauna.
You can read more about the science behind this process and what researchers are finding at the link below.
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