Questions for “Jumping ‘snake worms’ are invading U.S. forests”

Brad Herrick of the Madison Arboretum holds a handful of invasive Asian jumping worms. Two of the three invasive jumping-worm species spreading across the United States have been found in Wisconsin.

UW–Madison Arboretum

To accompany “Jumping ‘snake worms’ are invading U.S. forests


Before Reading:

1. Why do you think that many ecologists argue that earthworms can be great for soil?

2. There are many threats to forests the world over. What are at least three?

During Reading:

1.  Where do jumping earthworms come from, what are three traits of these worms and how might they have gotten to the United States?

2.  What are various common names for these worms? How widely have they spread in the United States?

3.  What are at least three ways people have fostered the spread of these worms?

4.  What is leaf litter and what role do jumping worms play in its cover of forest soils?

5.  What does new research say about the role of these worms in changing the forest soils and what lives in those soils?

6.  What is an environmental niche and what is the potential importance of the different jumping worms filling different niches?

After Reading:

1.  What are the many ways that human activities can aggravate the impact of these invasive worms? (Hint: Consider direct and indirect effects, such as fossil fuel use and horticulture.)

2.  Ecologists worry about bacterial changes in worm-impacted soils. Why? What role can bacteria have in an ecosystem?