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Data from: Invasive earthworms erode soil biodiversity: a meta-analysis

Cite this dataset

Ferlian, Olga et al. (2018). Data from: Invasive earthworms erode soil biodiversity: a meta-analysis [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Biological invasions pose a serious threat to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning across ecosystems. Invasions by ecosystem engineers, in particular, have been shown to have dramatic effects in recipient ecosystems. For instance, invasion by earthworms, a belowground invertebrate ecosystem engineer, in previously earthworm-free ecosystems dramatically alters the physico-chemical characteristics of the soil. Studies have shown that such alterations in the soil can have far-reaching impacts on soil organisms, which form a major portion of terrestrial biodiversity. 2. Here, we present the first quantitative synthesis of earthworm invasion effects on soil microorganisms and soil invertebrates based on 430 observations from 30 independent studies. 3. Our meta-analysis shows a significant decline of the diversity and density of soil invertebrates in response to earthworm invasion with anecic and endogeic earthworms causing the strongest effects. Earthworm invasion effects on soil microorganisms were context-dependent, such as depending on functional group richness of invasive earthworms and soil depth. Microbial biomass and diversity increased in mineral soil layers, with a weak negative effect in organic soil layers, indicating that the mixing of soil layers by earthworms (bioturbation) may homogenize microbial communities across soil layers. 4. Our meta-analysis provides a compelling evidence for negative effects of a common invasive belowground ecosystem engineer on belowground biodiversity of recipient ecosystems, which could potentially alter the ecosystem functions and services linked to soil biota.

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