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6 March 2014 1:04 pm ,
Vol. 343 ,
Magdalena Koziol, a former postdoc at Yale University, was the victim of scientific sabotage. Now, she is suing the...
Antiretroviral drugs can protect people from becoming infected by HIV. But so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP...
Two studies show that eating a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates is linked to a longer, healthier life, and...
Considered an icon of conservation science, researchers at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters in Washington, D.C.,...
The new atlas, which shows the distribution of important trace metals and other substances, is the first product of...
Early in April, the first of a fleet of environmental monitoring satellites will lift off from Europe's spaceport in...
Since 2000, U.S. government health research agencies have spent almost $1 billion on an effort to churn out thousands...
- 6 March 2014 1:04 pm , Vol. 343 , #6175
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ScienceShot: Scared Earthworms Help Plants Grow
17 July 2013 5:15 pm
A frightened earthworm is a plant's best friend. Researchers testing the ecological role of the earthworm Pheretima aspergillum (pictured above) in an alpine meadow have found that when a beetle that preys on earthworms is present, plants grew more. The presence of the beetles also increased the quality of the deeper soil, reported this month in the Journal of Animal Ecology. When beetles were present, earthworms migrated to the deeper soil, probably to avoid the beetles' foraging range. The earthworms broke up this deeper soil, and nutrients and water moved into it. The researchers speculate that the enriching nutrients and water brought to this deeper soil may have been more valuable to plants than the improvements to the upper soil that occurred when the predatory beetles were absent and the earthworms remained in the upper soil. So the next time your outdoor plants aren't growing, it might not be because there aren't enough earthworms, but because the earthworms lack predators to hide from.