Earthworm invasions in the tropics
The effects and implications of invasive species in belowground terrestrial ecosystems are not well known in comparison with aboveground terrestrial and marine environments. The study of earthworm invasions in the tropics is limited by a lack of taxonomic knowledge and the potential for loss of species in native habitats due to anthropogenic land use change. Alteration of land use plays a major role in determining the abundance and community structure of earthworms and the establishment of exotic earthworms in areas previously inhabited by worms. Once an exotic species has become established into a new place, site and species characteristics seem to be key factors determining their spread. We reviewed the literature on the distribution and effects of exotic earthworms to understand the interactions of earthworm invasion and land use history in the tropics. Patterns in the abundance, effects and mechanisms of earthworm invasions on ecosystem processes in the tropics are elucidated using Pontoscolex corethrurus as a case study.