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Temperature Affects Hatching Success of Cocoons in the Invasive Asian Earthworm Amynthas agrestis from the Southern Appalachians

Blackmon, James H., Taylor, Melanie K., Carrera-Martínez, Roberto, Snyder, Bruce A., Callaham, Mac A.
Southeastern naturalist 2019 v.18 no.2 pp. 270-280
Amynthas agrestis, cocoons, cold, earthworms, food webs, hatching, life history, temperature, terrestrial ecosystems, Appalachian region, Eastern United States
Invasive Asian earthworms are increasingly common in the eastern USA where they are a major cause of terrestrial ecosystem disturbance. Among these, Amynthas agrestis (Crazy Worm, Alabama Jumper, and other common names) has been shown to alter above- and belowground food webs. Life-history traits of these earthworms are largely unknown, particularly in their invaded range. Here, we sought to answer questions about temperature effects on hatching success for cocoons of this species, using specimens collected from the southern Appalachian Mountains. We conducted 2 experiments investigating the effects of incubation temperature and the effect of varying the duration of cold temperature on hatching success. Of the temperatures tested, we found that cocoons hatched with greatest success at 10 °C, but our tests indicate a long duration at that temperature may be needed to result in an increase in hatching success. These results indicate that temperature and the duration of temperature exposure affect hatching success in this species. While our results contribute to the growing body of knowledge about the life-history traits of invasive Asian earthworms in the eastern US, more research is needed to provide a finer-resolution understanding of the optimum level and duration of temperatures for hatching success of A. agrestis.