A researcher from the Canadian Forest Service, who studies the boreal forest, has published a new study which aims to explore and explain the presence of strange beings in the soil. The boreal forest is the biggest northern forest in the world, surrounding the top of the globe as a ring of trees.
During a previous study which took place in northern Alberta Cynthia Shaw was surprised when she found earthworms in the soil which was affected by oil and gas activity.
It is well-known that the last ice age wiped out the population of native worms found on the northern side of the North American continent. Species of earthworm brought from Southern Europe by settlers who arrived centuries ago have managed to travel to the northern forests, and their spread may have been accelerated by a variety of factors, ranging from the timber and petroleum industry to fishing and gardening.
Earthworm role for the environment is more significant than initially thought
A major problem stems from the fact that the worms release a large amount of carbon as they feed, with the gas being kept in the forest floor, a process which has prompted many researchers to think about the possible large-scale consequences of the phenomenon.
It is interesting that such small creatures have the potential to play a significant role when we are looking to carbon balance. According to one researcher the earthworms present across Europe, Russia and North America could be able to convert the boreal forest into a carbon fountain.
Earthworms are essential for the ecosystem since they speed up the breakdown of organic material found in soil, facilitating the release of nutrients which can help plants to grow faster. Select types of earthworms are also able to traverse mineral soil and lock a large amount of carbon within it.
As the number of earthworms continues to increase the amount of carbon dioxide leaked to the atmosphere continues to grow. Further research is already underway, and the study was published in a scientific journal.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.