Earthworms-Just How Weird Are They?
By Maddie D
Habitat of the Average Earthworm
The main habitat of the earthworm is the soil, but it can be more complicated than that. Earthworms live in decaying plant matter and animal manure. Some species of earthworms even live in decaying logs. The main factors that determine where an earthworm lives are climate and vegetation. They tend to stay in places that are warm and have moist soil, and have at least some vegetation that could potentially be used for food.
Earthworms, like every other species, have had to adapt to survive. One way that they have adapted is by growing setae so they can grip the dirt when they move. Also, having no limbs is an adaption to living in burrows and makes it easy to move around in the soil. Another adaption is the earthworm's ability to push its pharynx out of its mouth to grip food and pull it back in. To prevent their tunnels from collapsing, earthworms secrete a concrete-like liquid to hold up the walls, and also secrete mucus to make it easier to move in the soil. Earthworms also have five hearts to keep blood flowing in their long, skinny bodies.
The Earthworm's Lifestyle
There are three major lifestyle groups for worms. They are Anecic, Endogeic, and Epigeic, which mean "upon the earth," "up from or out of the earth," and "within the earth." These categories can affect the usefulness of the worm to nature and farmers who used the enriched soil from these worms. Worms that are good for compositing could fall into the epigeic category. Worms may come to the surface for food and are responsible for getting rid of surface litter and for improving soil aeration.