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New Topsoil Sampler for the Assessment and Monitoring of Forest Soil Contamination
Open AccessCommunication

Non-Native Earthworms Invade Forest Soils in Northern Maine, USA

1
School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
2
Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2021, 12(1), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010080
Received: 5 December 2020 / Revised: 28 December 2020 / Accepted: 11 January 2021 / Published: 13 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
Non-native earthworms can cause abrupt changes in forest ecosystems by altering soil properties and depleting or redistributing soil carbon (C) stocks. The forests of Northern Maine are often perceived as having winters that are too harsh to support earthworm populations and that earthworms are restricted to more southerly regions. In this study, we report the discovery of European earthworms at two research sites in Northern Maine. At one site, earthworms were only found across a portion of the forest, and the median organic (O) horizon C stock in the area with earthworms was 34% less than that of areas without earthworms. At a second site, earthworms were found across the entire 60-ha forest and the median O horizon C stock was 39% less than that of a similar forest without earthworms. Consistent with reports from other regions, areas with earthworms had no or minimal eluvial (E) horizons, while earthworm-free locations always had E horizons. Earthworm presence was always associated with a topsoil (A) horizon, reflecting mechanical mixing and organic matter processing by earthworms. This is one of the first reports of non-native earthworm presence in Northern Maine forests and monitoring changes in soil C will be important for determining rates of C sequestration in these forests. Warmer winter temperatures, particularly winter minimums, and greater annual precipitation will likely increase the success of new earthworm introductions across Northern Maine forests. Management actions that limit the transport of earthworms into earthworm-free areas should be carefully evaluated to minimize the potential for new introductions. View Full-Text
Keywords: biological invasions; climate change; disturbance regimes; forest soil; Maine adaptive silviculture network biological invasions; climate change; disturbance regimes; forest soil; Maine adaptive silviculture network
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MDPI and ACS Style

Puhlick, J.J.; Fernandez, I.J.; Wason, J.W. Non-Native Earthworms Invade Forest Soils in Northern Maine, USA. Forests 2021, 12, 80. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010080

AMA Style

Puhlick JJ, Fernandez IJ, Wason JW. Non-Native Earthworms Invade Forest Soils in Northern Maine, USA. Forests. 2021; 12(1):80. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010080

Chicago/Turabian Style

Puhlick, Joshua J.; Fernandez, Ivan J.; Wason, Jay W. 2021. "Non-Native Earthworms Invade Forest Soils in Northern Maine, USA" Forests 12, no. 1: 80. https://doi.org/10.3390/f12010080

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