Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Laura Jackson, Honors Thesis Advisor, Biology Department, Director of the Tallgrass Prairie Center


Earthworms--Feeding and feeds; Prairie plants--Seeds--Predators of; Prairie restoration;


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

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (24 pages)



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