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Dirt on Worms article, the new 'invasive'??

 
Kelda Miller
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I'd love to know you guys' thoughts about this article. I've heard about the worm issue before, but I find the 'invasive/devastation' language a bit unpalatable. Plus I can't think of one situation in which I'd change my composting techniques. I mean, perhaps if someone was getting something from my urban nursery and going to plant it out in a relatively untouched area. Should I really tell them to kill the worms they may find in the pot?


http://www.agweb.com/FarmJournal/current/Article.aspx?id=154411
 
Leah Sattler
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I have encountered this issue before. quite frankly. we let the cat out of the bag a long time ago......er rather the worm out of the bag. at this point I feel it is a matter of adaptation. species have moved over the globe in a variety of ways for eons. and the world changes accordingly. I am in no way trying to minimize the impact of invasive species or suggest we shouldn't try to protect native populations but at the same time I suspect that in some cases there is little we can do to rein in the snowball once is starts rolling.  I hadn't heard of their effect on the forested areas before. Imostly come away from that info with the idea that there are alot more things at work affecting our climate and natural world then are touted. how many percieved negative changes in our enviroment are due to our "freindly earthworm" that are attributed to things that people would prefer to blame for emotional, power or financial reasons?
 
                    
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"Of the thousands of species around the globe, only approximately 15 of the European and Asian varieties are considered to be bad guys. Hale says that despite distinct differences in these worms’ anatomy, color and behavior, most people never really notice and think “a worm is a worm.” But research is showing that different species can have very different environmental impacts."

that was about the only statement in the entire article that didnt rub me wrong.

The forests of minnesota, michigan and states to the East of the great lakes have been hit hard by earthworms- 10's of thousands of acres are being affected by the changes to the soils there- just like they have since they took over grasslands at the edges of receeding glaciers.

we know ecosystems are not static, and that our best guesses about both stability and dynamics are still shots in the uninformed dark. I am far less concerned about our best efforts having unintended and grievous results (cane toads in australia, for instance) than I am about the greed and arrogance that drives business, trade and policy.

the damage done by worms to remaining forests is nothing compared to the damage done by overharvesting trees, mining mountaintops and reseting billions of acres to year one post catastophic disturbance, ie, agri-industrail practices. not to mention industrial pollution, or the effects war has had on soils and forests, etc...

of course, worms, native or evil colonial invaders, cant live in many of those environments at all.


seems we have gone and opened a can of worms, but Id im not loosing any sleep over it. keep on composting kelda!

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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Holy YIKES !

that sounds more scarey than i would have imagined.

my husband used to pick nightcrawlers up and sell them as bait when he was out of work..for gas money to go look for jobs..so he might have even spread the problem ??

we had looked at those vermiculture things that you buy with the worms..and am glad we didn't do it..

we have a lot of worms here naturally.

i can pile all of our fallen leaves in compost piles or under trees ..that are raked out of the yard and in spring about 3/4 of them are gone already..

so we have a lot of worms eating them.

i think here it is ok as they seem to keep the soil fertile..but i can see where it could be a problem in the woods..you really don't see the deep duff on the woods floor that should be there..but a lot of that in the local area is from overforest harvesting..they replant the baby trees, but in the meantime the forest is left void of falling leaves until the babies grow..they do that all over around here..to supply  the plants that burn wood chips..etc.

i am glad we have our own property where we can do right by it..but it is such a small bit of land compared to the devastation that goes on around us.
 
paul wheaton
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"When earthworms invade, they actually increase the compaction of the soil"

I don't understand - how does that happen?

This is such a jarring change, I can't seem to wrap my head around it. 

Is the article from april 1?  No - from november ...

I understand that part that you can have situations where earthworms lead to too much drainage.  That's interesting.

But the rest .....  without the earthworm, it seems that the soils would get compacted and not reverse.



 
Emil Spoerri
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why worry about something that we can't control without causing great damage to the countless other systems that rely on us keeping our grubby little hands from turning the soil constantly?

I don't understand how they think they can study nature in places like the United States where most of the natural processes have been destroyed and are not allowed to reestablish

sure perhaps the forests soils have become more compact, but we have also taken large herbivorous animals out of the equation also

what happens when you add in wild cows and pigs to those woods

or create rotations of pigs and cows

or when you have giant elephants and woods buffalo and passenger pigeons that produce so much excrament they blanket the forest floor and wipe out all the undergrowth

when we destroy a part of the environment it is our responsibility to replace it somehow
 
paul wheaton
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asmileisthenewak47 wrote:
why worry about something that we can't control without causing great damage to the countless other systems that rely on us keeping our grubby little hands from turning the soil constantly?


Good point. 

I think that if there is legit concern then we should at least get the info into our heads and start stewing on it.  But, at this time, I don't even see the problem.

asmileisthenewak47 wrote:
I don't understand how they think they can study nature in places like the United States where most of the natural processes have been destroyed and are not allowed to reestablish


Another good point.  It seems that at worst, this problem might have a suck factor of 2.  In the meantime, a field next door has a suck factor of 700.



 
Leah Sattler
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in the big picture I agree with paul. suck factor very small relative to other things. I just read something about them dumping poison in the river to keep the carp from making it to one of the great lakes while their electric barriers are down for maintenance. they will take cranes to  scoop the dead fish out of the water afterwards. of course the lakes are already populated with numerous non natives that have damaged the eco system. in someways I wonder if the carp are a lost cause also and the idea that they are purposely poisoning waterways makes me wonder if the price is worth the result. I have to wonder if the carp have already made it and they just haven't been found in great numbers yet. at some point we have to accept and adapt to the change we have created or we can do further damage trying to fix it.
 
Brenda Groth
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oh Leah I so agree, i saw all those dead fish, people food, being thrown out..and they found only 1 asian carp in the entire pile..1.

i live between the great lakes and i'm sure concerned that it be kept nice..but good grief..you kill all of those beautiful fish for 1 carp ??

in Traverse City Michigan..since i was a child..there is a river called the Boardman River that is chuck full of carp...chuck full..when i was small they were as big as me.

this river dumps into the great lakes !!! has always...and i'm no longer a little kid..so what is the big deal about the carp..they have always been here..in the rivers that dump into the great lakes.

asked what the problem would be if they went into the lakes the scientist expert said he didn't know.

myself..i'll continue to encourage our earthworms to break down stuff on my property..maybe the problem isn't so much the earthworms but the fishermen getting there by atv..and removing all the good fallen trees and stuff for their campfires
 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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This is an old post, but I'll reply anyways. You have probably kept abreast of any recent developments in the news, but these aren't just any carp, like the native species belonging to that family. We're talking about asian carp. We're being invaded by asians!

All kidding aside, we're talking about two or three species of asian carp that were used for aquaponics or aquaculture somewhere in the States, primarily because one, Grass Carp, I believe, eats aquatic vegetation with a good feed conversion rate, and another, I believe its the Silver Carp, but don't quote me on that, is a voracious feeder as well, but on other fish, also with good growth characteristics for harvesting. The two combined result in, at best, the conversion of viable, complex aquatic systems into a dumbed-down duoculture surviving on whatever aquatic plants grow fast enough to complete a life cycle before being devoured, and at worst, water devoid of most of its current diversity, and a large part of its life. I haven't spoken with anyone that fishes out of the waters that were poisoned. Did people regularly eat fish they caught there? I was under the impression that it was still heavily polluted due to a history of heavy industry.

As to the worm issue, I was under the impression that, except for potential isolated populations in what are now Florida and Texas, and parts south of there, all native worms were wiped out by the last glaciation. Hardwood populations have evolved to need that thick, slowly-growing, slowly-decomposing layer of leaf litter, and when they don't get it, we see other patterns of succession. I'd rather have worms slowly converting hardwood forest to isolated groves surrounded by oak savannah than to have a bunch of legislating morons decide that its a good idea to go spraying existing forests.

-CK

 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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The bureaucratic idiots deciding to spray forests with toxic chemicals will do more to upset the balance of nature than the worms, but I do believe they are changing the nature of the forests - they eat the leaf mould, turning it into worm casings which are more the texture of clay than of fluffy humus. We may lose a lot of species, not only of trees but also understory plants, fungi, and animals (newts come to mind). Some will adapt. It will open up niches that allow other species to thrive and eventually there will be a balance again, but it may not look like what we're used to.

Without us the worms spread very slowly. If they're already on your farm or yard there's nothing you need to worry about. Go ahead and buy the vermiculture kit if you want it. The only thing is, in those isolated patches of virgin forest that are still left - don't fish with worms as bait. I did vermiculture with worms I found on the ground after a rain. Those big nightcrawlers don't work but the little worms do. There's nothing really special about the ones they sell, and that bit that you need to buy them for it to work is, IMHO, a sales pitch.

When I was raising fish outdoors I'd find worms that had fallen into my tubs and couldn't get out again. They didn't seem to drown or mind being in the water. I'd bet that they can be carried downstream for days or maybe weeks or longer and survive to crawl out and climb up to inhabit wherever they find themselves. So it could be anywhere that has streams that hold runoff from farmed fields or yards that contain worms already has worms.
 
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