Evidence for ongoing introduction of non-native earthworms in the Washington, DC metropolitan area


Earthworm introductions and invasions are ongoing, with significant consequences for ecological characteristics and function where populations of invasive species reach high densities. In North America the influx of people, goods and materials to coastal cities has long been recognized to be related to introduction and establishment of many different invasive organisms. We conducted surveys for soil invertebrates in the Washington, DC area along the Potomac River corridor to examine the influence of historic soil profile disrupting disturbances on the composition of soil invertebrate communities. Here we report three earthworm taxa that either (1) had never been previously reported in North America (Lumbricidae: Helodrilus oculatus), (2) had never been reported from ‘‘wild’’ caught samples in forested soils (Lumbricidae: Eisenia fetida), or (3) represented a notable range expansion for an introduced species (Lumbricidae: Murchieona muldali). All three species reported here have attributes that give reason for concern over their expansion into North American soils, not least of which is their potential for competitive interactions with the remaining native earthworm species.

  • Citation: Callaham, Mac A.; Snyder, Bruce A.; James, Samuel W.; Oberg, Erik T. 2016. Evidence for ongoing introduction of non-native earthworms in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Biological Invasions. 4 p.  DOI:10.1007/s10530-016-1230-2

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