Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Trivia for those unused brain cavities


Did you know that nightcrawlers are not native to North America?

It's true.

According to the National Geographic:
It is just possible that John Rolfe was responsible for the worms—specifically the common night crawler and the red marsh worm, creatures that did not exist in the Americas before Columbus. Rolfe was a colonist in Jamestown, Virginia, the first successful English colony in North America. Most people know him today, if they know him at all, as the man who married Pocahontas. A few history buffs understand that Rolfe was one of the primary forces behind Jamestown's eventual success. The worms hint at a third, still more important role: Rolfe inadvertently helped unleash a convulsive and permanent change in the American landscape.
***********

The hardwood forests of New England and the upper Midwest, for instance, have no native earthworms—they were apparently wiped out in the last Ice Age. In such worm-free woodlands, leaf litter piles up in drifts on the forest floor. But when earthworms are introduced, they can do away with the litter in a few months. The problem is that northern trees and shrubs beneath the forest canopy depend on that litter for food. Without it, water leaches away nutrients formerly stored in the litter. The forest becomes more open and dry, losing much of its understory, including tree seedlings.

Sometimes I hear people claim that man is too small and the earth is too big for us to have enough impact to change the climate.

Then I think about worms.

12 comments:

spiiderweb™ said...

Welcome to this unbelievable and totally psychotic world of blogging.

Just don't even think about slashing your wrists.

Oh yeah, Blue Gal sent me.

Capn Dyke said...

Well, well, BG be right - ye are funny an' smart. Welcome aboard, Fine Lass.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Damn it, now you got me thinking and shit. Grrrr.

commander other said...

o geez, what a great way to start the morning, thinking about field rations. thanks a million.

Johnny Yen said...

The New York Times had an article on that a couple of years ago-- that there's been a lot of damage to forests done by people innocently dumping their extra fishing nightcrawlers.

Yoga Korunta said...

One might think of global warming.

Dr. Zaius said...

French terrorists brought the common garden snail to Califonia so that they could eat escargot, and now they are al over the country. They ruin your garden!

They are all illegal aliens, and I have a mind to call Lou Dobbs.

Sorghum Crow said...

Global Worming.
(Yoga Korunta was so close)

And fishermen(and wimmen) are exacerbating the problem when they dump their leftover bait.

and welcome to blogging.

Jess Wundrun said...

Ha! My parents have a little cottage on a lake. My mom used to go down the road to a little inlet of the lake with my niece and gather up snails. They thought it was fun.

Then one day they brought the snails back to their side of the lake and dumped a few in the water. Now there are zillions of snails right off their pier. I tell my mom she is the cause of the infestation.

They are on a large chain of lakes and even when we go about 10 miles away if I spot a snail, I'll blame her. She always gets a guilty look and then says "it couldn't possibly have been me". But you know she's thinking.

Jess Wundrun said...

Thank you, Sorghum. My ha was in response to Dr. Zaius, and seems terribly inappropriate after yours.

We put our leftover bait in our composter. Is that safe?

Suzy said...

Have you ever been to a place without worms? We went to the bay of Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, Canada a few years ago. Walking there, on layers and layers of collected leaf litter, was like what I imagine walking on a giant spongecake to be like. Very cool.

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