Biological Invasions

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 1393–1401 | Cite as

Dominance of an invasive earthworm in native and non-native grassland ecosystems

  • Yaniria Sánchez-de León
  • Jodi Johnson-Maynard
Original Paper


More attention is currently being focused on earthworm invasions; however, in many ecosystems the relative abundance of native and invasive earthworm species is unknown. We characterized earthworm populations of two grassland types within the Palouse region: native prairie remnants and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) set asides planted with exotic grasses. The earthworm community in both grassland types was completely dominated by the exotic-invasive Aporrectodea trapezoides. Only one individual of a native species, Driloleirus americanus (the giant Palouse earthworm), was found in a prairie remnant. No differences were found between prairie remnants and CRP sites for mean earthworm density (24–106 individuals m−2) or fresh weight (12–45 g m−2). Our results suggest that the combined effects of land-use change, habitat fragmentation and competitive interactions have resulted in the decimation of native earthworm populations and dominance of invasive earthworms in native and non-native grasslands of the Palouse region.


Invasive earthworms Grasslands Palouse prairie Conservation Reserve Program 



We are grateful to private landowners and Washington State University for letting us work on their lands. This work was funded by National Science Foundation-Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant No. 0114304, the Inland Northwest Research Alliance, the University of Idaho’s Center for Research on Invasive Species and Small Populations and the Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences. We are extremely grateful to Michael Westwind-Fender for identification of the native earthworm species. We thank K. Smetak, J. Villa-Romero, P. Wanjugi, N. Whitaker, J. Lugo-Perez and K. Umiker for their help in the field. We are also grateful to N. Bosque-Perez, P. McDaniel, J. Marshall and D. H. Wise for useful comments on previous versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yaniria Sánchez-de León
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jodi Johnson-Maynard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant, Soil and Entomological SciencesUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological Sciences (M/C 066)University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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