Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Noah J. Karberg; Erik A. Lilleskov
    Date: 2008
    Source: Biological Invasions. online. 7 p.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Northern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (360.31 KB)


    Exotic European earthworms have expanded into worm-free forests of the United States. Concurrently, populations of the white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, have also increased. During winter, deer use hemlock stands for cover while browsing elsewhere, creating a net organic matter flux into these stands. Deer fecal pellets can provide annual inputs of 48.1 kg C, 1.4 kg N, and 1.3 kg Ca per hectare. We tested the hypothesis that these pellets were readily consumed by invading earthworms. The litter-feeding anecic earthworm Lumbricus terrestris redistributed fecal pellets and accelerated mass and nutrient loss rates. These losses are likely due to the combination of enhanced fragmentation and decomposition as earthworms drag pellets into their burrows for consumption. This nutrient subsidy may be an important source of high quality "litter" input to hemlock stands, which may in turn facilitate the invasion of these stands by earthworms under high deer densities.

    Publication Notes

    • Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
    • Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
    • During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
    • Please contact Sharon Hobrla, if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Karberg, Noah J.; Lilleskov, Erik A. 2008. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fecal pellet decomposition is accelerated by the invasive earthworm Lumbricus terrestris. Biological Invasions. online. 7 p.


    calcium, C:N ratio, European nightcrawler (umbricus terrestris), fecal pellets, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page