Online Program to Discuss Invasive Earthworms in New England Forests

HOLYOKE — On Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m., Wistariahurst will host “Invasive Earthworms in New England Forests,” detailing their damage and spread as part of an ongoing series of live, virtual programming. Presented by Justin Richardson, assistant professor of Geosciences at UMass Amherst, this program will be free and open to all. Pre-registration is required.

Forests in New England are under pressure from shifting climates, introduced species, and human uses for fuel and wood products. One largely understudied biological pressure involves invasive earthworms. New England forests largely developed without native earthworms due to the last major glaciation. Since international boat travel, New England forests experienced a wave of European earthworms. Richardson will discuss their impacts on forests where they have been observed, as well as some measures to prevent their spread and potential control mechanisms.

Richardson’s research focuses on forest soils and how humans alter the physical, chemical, and biological nature. His current research focuses on nutrient cycling in perturbed soils, toxic metal transport in New England watersheds, and urban forests.

This program has been designed to address the needs of area seniors, many of whom continue to be socially isolated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is supported through a Community Development Block Grant to address, prevent, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic; administered through the Holyoke Office of Community Development; and planned in consultation with the Holyoke Council on Aging. Additional support has been provided through NEH CARES Act funding granted by Mass Humanities.

To register for “Invasive Earthworms in New England Forests” or any future programs, visit or e-mail Eileen Maginnis at the Holyoke Council on Aging at If you have an idea for a topic you’d like to be considered for a future Wistariahurst session, e-mail Future virtual programs will focus on a diverse range of historical and cultural topics including programs on nature, art, history, travel, and social justice.