Subterranean immigrants

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaWhen they do what they do best, they can help farmers raise healthier crops. But at the same time, they could be doing harm. Most of the ones you see are probably aliens. But one thing’s for sure, they’re great fish bait.Earthworms are among the most important animals that live in soils, says Paul Hendrix, a crop and soil sciences and ecology professor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Soil eatersAs earthworms munch through the soil, they aerate it and leave behind fertile droppings. “Soils with a lot of earthworms crawling around are generally considered good for agricultural systems,” Hendrix said.The most familiar earthworms are 8 to 10 inches long. But earthworms aren’t all alike, he said.There are 3,500 earthworm species in the world. North America is home to about 150. Of these, about 45 are exotic, European species introduced on purpose or by accident by colonial settlers. The earthworms probably tagged along in soils used to ballast ships or carry plants.New digsThese subterranean immigrants, much like the immigrants that brought them, found this new world welcoming.It appears, Hendrix said, that the dominant nonnatives have replaced most of the native species in the developed parts of United States. Most earthworms found in lawns, the woods near homes or in fields are exotics.Most native species don’t like the way humans tend to disturb the soils where they live and work. But the exotics don’t mind at all.”These earthworms really thrive in human-modified environments all over the world,” he said.InvadersMost of the European species — again, like the Europeans who brought them — are naturalized citizens by now. But that doesn’t mean they’re safe.Are they doing any unseen harm to the U.S. environment? And, if other foreign species are introduced, could they cause harm in the future?It’s happened in the past. An animal, plant, bug or fungus that’s harmless in its native land can bring disease or other problems to another country. And with the new global economy forcing countries into more direct contact, damaging exotic earthworm invasions are even more likely.For example, scientists believe earthworms can carry foot-and-mouth disease, a devastating livestock disease. And the voracious appetites and burrowing habits of foreign earthworms have thinned forest leaf litter in areas of Minnesota, threatening plants that depend on the leaf litter.The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is considering guidelines to regulate the introduction of exotic earthworms into the United States.Hendrix is one of a handful of scientists studying the characteristics of exotic earthworms in America, the geographic extent of their invasions, how they do it and what damage or benefit they could provide below- and aboveground.He’s studying earthworms in Florida, North Carolina and Oregon. He published an article about the possible ecological and policy implications of exotic earthworm invasions in the September 2002 issue of “BioScience.”last_img read more

Luke Walton’s presence attracted Luol Deng to the Lakers

first_imgThe phone calls flooded his agent’s inbox, an obvious indication that Luol Deng still commands plenty of interest through 12 NBA seasons.But aside from the generous four-year, $72 million offer the Lakers threw his way, there marked a few other factors that enticed Deng to sign his deal with a purple and gold pen.Beyond the Lakers’ rich history and the joy of living in Los Angeles, Deng also found some appealing qualities playing for Lakers coach Luke Walton.“I was really excited about the system and also the role that I would play,” Deng told Southern California News Group. “I’m able to play as hard as I can on the court and lead these guys, while also being a voice in the locker room.” Humble pieD’Angelo Russell’s emergence shrunk in the presence of an All-Star. Portland guard Damian Lillard handed the Lakers a 109-106 loss in overtime after scoring 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting and a 6-of-9 clip from 3-point range. Russell finished with 12 points and one assist while shooting 6 of 21 from the field and 0 of 9 from 3-point range. He missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer before overtime, while Jordan Clarkson missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer to force double overtime.The Lakers stayed competitive because of double-digit efforts from Clarkson (15 points), Nick Young (14), Julius Randle (13 points) Timofey Mozgov (11) and Marcelo Huertas (11). Meeting of the mindsWalton said he and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak planned to talk following Tuesday’s exhibition about possible roster cuts. It’s not currently clear if the Lakers plan to field their full 20-man training camp roster for Thursday’s exhibition against Sacramento in Las Vegas.Giving backThe Lakers and Pechanga Resort & Casino hosted the “Hoops for Troops” clinic before Tuesday’s exhibition. There, former Lakers forward Brian Cook led a series of shooting, dribbling and other skills for 50 U.S. Armed Forces servicemen and women. The Lakers, which also hosted the event last year, will also have clinics exhibitions in San Diego (Oct. 19) and Anaheim (Oct. 21).“These guys have their lives on the lines for our country. There’s not much more you can do that’s heroic than that,” Cook said. “For them to play where Kobe [Bryant] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and the other greats have played, it’s awesome to give back.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Not all has gone according to plan for Deng, who missed two exhibition games after he bruised his left knee last week in practice while colliding with forward Anthony Brown. Deng started in Thursday’s exhibition against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. But Walton planned to offer Deng limited minutes for precautionary reasons.“The goal is to get in shape by the time the season starts,” Deng said. “And to get guys to recognize what I can and can’t do on the floor and vice versa. It’s all about getting the team better.”The Lakers believe Deng will make the team better as their starting small forward after averaging 15.5 points on 45.8 percent shooting and 6.2 rebounds through his NBA career. Deng also will serve as a mentor for rookie forward Brandon Ingram, who Walton will not start right away partly so Ingram can adapt to the physical demands of the NBA’s 82-game schedule.That does not mark the only reason, however, why Deng has liked Walton’s coaching approach.“He’s new to coaching, but he has a positive mindset,” Deng said. “The way he coaches, he really respects players and demands respect back.” last_img read more