Honors Program Theses
Developing methods to assess the role of Lumbricus terrestris on seed predation in prairie restoration
Open Access Honors Program Thesis
Laura Jackson, Honors Thesis Advisor, Biology Department, Director of the Tallgrass Prairie Center
Tallgrass prairie used to cover Iowa and much of the midwest, but now only a small percentage of it remains. Many prairie restoration efforts are in place to revitalize Iowa’s former prairie landscape. Native prairie seed that is genetically diverse and regionally appropriate is expensive, and only 5-10% of the seeds planted germinate into seedlings. Ungerminated seed loss can occur many ways, one being due to seed predation. The common earthworm, Lumbricus terrestris, is a seed predator that has been observed to be present at prairie restoration sites by its numerous middens. The goal was to develop methods that would allow future researchers to study how significant of a seed predator L. terrestris is in prairie restoration sites. A series of trials were run in the laboratory to test if the methods used were successful tools to study earthworm granivory. The species of seeds offered and the density of seeds offered were only variables altered. The results confirmed that earthworms will eat native prairie seed. The native seeds they consumed the most included Solidago rigida and Monarda fistulosa. The results from the density trials indicated that as the density increased, the number of seeds the earthworms consumed also increased. The next step is to develop a model system where earthworm seed predation can be measured in soil, with the focus being on developing methods for tracking/recovering seeds.
Year of Submission
Department of Biology
Tallgrass Prairie Center
University Honors Designation
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors
1 PDF file (24 pages)
©2022 Jacey R. Meier
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.
Meier, Jacey R., "Developing methods to assess the role of Lumbricus terrestris on seed predation in prairie restoration" (2022). Honors Program Theses. 555.