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Trace Elements in Surface Soils and Megascolecidae Earthworms in Urban Forests Within Four Land-Uses Around Poughkeepsie, New York, USA


Amynthas agrestis and Metaphire hilgendorfi are being distributed across North America with unknown ecosystem impacts. Forest soils in urban areas sequester trace elements and earthworms may be bioaccumulating them. This study examined Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, V, and Zn in soils and earthworm tissues at 28 urban forest sites in and surrounding Poughkeepsie, NY, USA. Megascolecidae were present at 22 sites with means of 12 to 27 individuals m−2 and 4 to 12 dry weight g m−2. Urban forest soils within commercial uses had Mn, Pb, and Zn concentrations higher than within residential and agricultural uses. Earthworm trace element concentrations were poorly predicted by their respective soil concentrations, except for Pb. Urban forests in commercial uses and land-preserves, earthworm Cd and Pb concentrations were at or above concentrations known to negatively impact small mammal and bird health ( > 10 mg kg−1) with Co and V approaching toxic concentrations.

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I would like to thank Brendan Braithwaite and Jonah G. Jordan for field support and laboratory assistance. This research was funded by the University of Massachusetts Amherst through research funds to Justin Richardson.

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Correspondence to J. B. Richardson.

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Richardson, J.B. Trace Elements in Surface Soils and Megascolecidae Earthworms in Urban Forests Within Four Land-Uses Around Poughkeepsie, New York, USA. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 103, 385–390 (2019).

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  • Trace metals
  • Pheretima
  • Toxic metal
  • Bioconcentration