Date of Award


Document Type

Access Controlled Thesis


Biological Science

First Advisor

Andrea Dávalos

Second Advisor

Laura Eierman


Originating in southeast Asia, jumping worms have been introduced to all continents except Antarctica. Jumping worms are surface-dwelling organisms that change topsoil structure through active feeding, thrashing moving through the soil, and excreting soil aggregates that form a long-lasting granular soil structure. Their documented impacts include reduction of soil organic matter, selection for bacterial growth and loss of native soil fauna, including millipedes and salamanders. Jumping worms are an annual species: they emerge in early spring and mature into adults during the summer when they reach peak abundance. Adults lay cocoons that persist in the soil throughout the winter and die after the first fall frost. The purpose of this study is to document growth rate and abundance of co-occurring species of jumping worms throughout their life cycle. Earthworms were sampled weekly at six forested sites throughout Taughannock State Park, New York from April to November 2022. Individuals increased in length over time as they progressed from juveniles in late April to the first adults seen on July 23, 2023. Juvenile worm length and abundance were positively correlated with cumulative growing degree days while adult length and abundance remained constant with no significant correlation. Abundance of the three species varied spatially and temporally. Understanding the temporal dynamics of these species and how they vary across latitudes and habitats is essential to predict their spread and potential impacts.