Invasive Earthworms and Plants in Indiana Old- and Second-Growth Forests Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractHardwood forests in eastern North America are being colonized by multiple nonnative plant and animal species. Colonization rates can be affected by stand structure and distance from edge. We sampled earthworm densities and understory plant species cover in transects located in paired old- and second-growth forests in Indiana. Two 100-m transects were established within each forest stand during late April to early May in each year. One transect was placed parallel to and within 5 m of a south- or west-facing edge. The second transect was placed parallel to the first. but at no less than 100 m from any edge. Nonnative earthworms and plants were found in forest edge and interior regardless of structural stage (second-growth vs. old-growth). The number of native plant species decreased linearly as the densities of adult Lumbricus and Aporrectodea earthworms and the percent cover of multiflora rose (an invasive plant species) increased. Densities of L. terrestris and Aporrectodea earthworms and percent cover of multiflora rose cumulatively explained 39% of the variation in the number of native plant species found in transects across the state. However, multivariate analyses suggested that the species composition of Indiana understory plant communities was affected more by geography than by earthworm densities. Our results suggest that nonnative earthworms and plants are ubiquitous in Indiana hardwood forests and that they may reduce the number of native plant species.

publication date

  • March 1, 2013

Full Author List

  • Gibson KD; Quackenbush PM; Emery NC; Jenkins MA; Kladivko EJ

Other Profiles

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 161

end page

  • 174


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  • 1