Both terrestrial and freshwater invertebrate macrofauna have long been recognized to have profound influences on processes like organic matter decomposition and nutrient dynamics. These organisms represent important reservoirs of biodiversity, and have utility as indicators of (soil or aquatic) ecosystem health. A few taxa exhibit considerable overlap between terrestrial and aquatic habitats, including several insect families, and some native North American earthworm families. Semi-aquatic earthworms are very poorly known relative to their terrestrial counterparts, perhaps because they occupy habitat that forms the boundary between wet and dry components of landscapes. Spatially, this habitat is narrow (10s of cm), but the linear extent of this habitat is prodigious (10,000s of km), and recent sampling revealed that earthworms in family Sparganophilidae are nearly ubiquitous along streams and lakes in eastern North America. This generality of distribution leads to obvious questions about what these earthworms do in terms of energy and nutrient processes, which have only recently begun to be addressed. We intend this presentation to introduce sparganophilid earthworms to the aquatic ecology community, with hopes that we may spark dialogue and collaboration in future ecological inquiries.
Callaham, M.A., Jr., R.R. Carrera-Martínez, and M.K. Taylor (2019): Know your water, know your soil, know your worms? – Earthworms and biogeochemistry at the margins of North American freshwater. Society for Freshwater Science annual meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 2019.