The worms churn through leaf litter at a faster clip than their more sluggish earthworm cousins, potentially processing nutrients faster than plants are able to use them and disrupting ecosystems.
Research into the insects' behavior aims to better understand lake-dominated environments, including those of Wisconsin.
In the last four months, UW–Madison researchers have started to find zebra mussels congregating in large numbers all over Lake Mendota.
Asian jumping worms, an invasive species first found in Wisconsin in 2013, may do their work too well, speeding up the exit of nutrients from the soil before plants can process them.
According to UW researchers, a single non-native species in a single inland lake has racked up $80 million to $163 million in damage.
Researchers have found that human influence has accelerated the rate of species change in these prairies and likely in other natural places.
University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty members Anthony Ives and Su-Chun Zhang have been named Steenbock Professors.