Impact Of Invasive Earthworms On Ixodes Scapularis And Other Litter-Dwelling Arthropods In Hardwood Forests, Central New York State.
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Invasive earthworms alter the structure of soils in northern hardwood forests, but the quantitative impacts on litter-dwelling invertebrates are unclear. Litter loss should reduce the habitat space, but nutrient-rich earthworm burrows might provide food resources. We investigated the impact of invasive earthworms on populations of Ixodes scapularis (Blacklegged Ticks), the small mammal community, and other litter-dwelling arthropods to determine the impact of a reduced litter environment. We used five pairs of one-hectare sites (earthworm invaded versus reference) within four contiguous forests in New York State. The presence of earthworms decreased the density of nymphal I. scapularis by 46.1% and larval I. scapluaris by 29.3%. We also observed a dramatic decline in the total abundance of litter-dwelling arthropods with 69.9% of the arthropod population disappearing in the presence of earthworms. Earthworm invasion did not impact small mammal populations. Implications regarding the position Ixodes scapularis within the litter ecosystem are explored.
Ixodes scapualris; Earthworm invasion; Litter-dwelling arthropods
Yavitt, Joseph B
Fahey, Timothy James
M.S., Natural Resources
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis