Invasive earthworms are changing the soil in Canada’s boreal forests

By Bev Betkowski
University of Alberta
September 11, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

Invasive earthworms are changing the makeup of soil in Canada’s boreal forests, new University of Alberta research shows. The study highlights how non-native earthworms are directly altering the soil microbial community in the country’s boreal forests. The wrigglers are inducing shifts in the community composition of bacteria and fungi that live in the soil, which is potentially concerning, says Justine Lejoly, who conducted the research at the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. “That means the functioning of the microbial communities is likely changing as well,” affecting vital services the soil performs, she notes. As the main drivers of carbon and nutrient cycling, these microbes can help plants access important nutrients and also participate in soil carbon storage. “As earthworm invasion progresses in these boreal systems, these changes in the soil microbial communities may have an impact on forests at a large scale,” adds Lejoly.

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