GEOGRAPHY IN THE NEWS:
Assembling data from nearly 7000 sites around the world, researchers have assembled the first map of global earthworm distribution. "During the 1800s, intrepid explorers collected and cataloged many of the world’s plants and animals, providing range maps for different species that launched further study. But that wasn’t true for subterranean life. ... [E]arthworms have been studied long enough in Europe that most of the species are known. (The United Kingdom has 33 kinds.) But in the tropics, 'Every time they dig a hole, they find a new species of earthworm,' [soil ecologist Helen] Phillips says. ... [Researchers] were surprised when their analysis showed that temperature and rainfall seem to have a greater influence on where earthworms do best than soil type, they report today in Science. ... The effects of temperature and rainfall suggest climate change will have a far greater influence on below-ground life than expected, they say. Consequently, life above ground might also be affected in ways not previously anticipated. The distribution of different earthworm species was also surprising. When it comes to life above ground, the tropics have the greatest biodiversity. But underground, these constantly warm regions are far less diverse, at least at a local scale: The rich soils of Europe, the northeastern United States, the southern tip of South America, and the southern regions of New Zealand and Australia seem to have more earthworm species in a given area. Those temperate zones also host more earthworms overall, according to the model, with up to 150 per square meter versus just five per square meter in the tropics." www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/first-global-map-earthworms-reveals-which-places-are-chock-full-them-and-why
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