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): Kassidy N. Yatso; Erik A. Lilleskov
    Date: 2016
    Source: Soil Biology & Biochemistry. 94: 181-190.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Northern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (840.0 KB)


    Invasive earthworm communities are expanding into previously earthworm-free forests of North America, producing profound ecosystem changes. Lumbricus terrestris is an invasive anecic earthworm that consumes a large portion of the detritus on the soil surface, eliminating forest floor organic horizons and reducing soil organic matter. Two mesocosm experiments were used to examine the individual and combined effects of litter and soil type on the growth of L. terrestris. The litter type experiment tested nine different food source treatments (7 tree leaf litters, deer fecal pellets, and a control), while the soil × litter type experiment used five different soil treatments (4 soil types and one soil type with A horizon material removed) in combination with four different food source treatments.We found that leaf litter type (p = 0.001) and soil type (p = 0.018) significantly affected earthworm growth rates, with growth rates on deer pellets similar to many high quality deciduous leaf litters. Of soil variables, exchangeable Ca (r2 = 0.99), sum base cations (r2 = 0.98), % organic matter (r2 = 0.93), %N (r2 = 0.89), %C (r2 = 0.87), and exchangeable Mg (r2 = 0.85) were all significant predictors of earthworm growth. Litter disappearance of all litter types was linearly related to growth, suggesting similar growth efficiency on different litter types. However, chemical properties, specifically foliar C:N and a linear combination of a suite of other chemical properties predicted growth, suggesting that consumption or gut passage rates were regulated by litter quality. This information about soil and litter characteristics that regulate L. terrestris growth should improve models of their distribution, spread and abundance.

    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.


    Yatso, Kassidy N.; Lilleskov, Erik A. 2016. Effects of tree leaf litter, deer fecal pellets, and soil properties on growth of an introduced earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris): Implications for invasion dynamics. Soil Biology & Biochemistry. 94: 181-190.


    Google Scholar


    Lumbricus terrestris growth rates, Earthworm invasion, Tree leaf litter quality, Northern hardwood-hemlock forests, Deer pellets, Soil calcium

    Related Search

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