Date of Completion

2017

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Plant and Soil Science

Type of Thesis

Honors College

First Advisor

Josef Gorres

Keywords

Lake Champlain, phosphorus retention, invasive, Amynthas spp.

Abstract

Exotic earthworm invasions have caused the degradation of Vermont's forest floors and changes in the nutrient cycling of forested areas. As climate change progresses, invasions by exotic species are predicted to spread. In Vermont, the most recent species of earthworm to invade are in the genus Amynthas. The change in nutrient cycling caused by exotic earthworm invasion will impact the phosphorus cycle in affected ecosystems. Phosphorus runoff is a serious concern for Vermont because it causes eutrophication and consequently algae blooms in Lake Champlain. It is predicted that climate change will increase the intensity of rainstorms which, in turn, will increase nutrient runoff, compounding the problem. This study evaluated if the presence of Amynthas spp. earthworms has an impact on the phosphorus adsorption capacity of forested areas, particularly of forested riparian buffers, which help prevent agricultural non-point source pollution. The phosphorus retention capacity was evaluated, as measured by the marginal phosphorus adsorption rate. The earthworm communities present were determined using morphological keys. It was found that the presence of Amynthas spp. earthworms did not reduce the phosphorus adsorption capacity of the soil, as initially hypothesized, and that the majority of studied riparian buffers had the ability to retain a significant amount of additional phosphorus.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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