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Nature volume 29, page 503 | Download Citation



I INCLOSE an excerpt from NATURE of January 3 (p. 213), which I saw in one of our daily newspapers. The observation there made is correct as to the absence of earthworms in the region mentioned, but the reason assigned is, I think, incorrect. It is well known to settlers on virgin soils in this country that in the first tillage of tie ground they will see no earthworms. This is equally the case whether they settle upon prairie land which has been swept annually by fires, or upon wood land which has been cleared for cultivation and which has never been burned over. Even in the natural meadows called “beaver meadows,” which one will chance upon in an otherwise completely forest-covered region, one will at first find no sign of the earthworm. Some sluggish stream is dammed by a colony of beavers, and the land flooded is cleared of trees by them. Alluvial deposits accumulate, and when the beavers have been killed or driven away the dam is destroyed by freshets, and the little stream regains its former dimensions, while the flooded ground, drained naturally, becomes a meadow covered with wild grasses nourished by rich depths of soil. But, until settlement and tillage by man, there is no trace of earthworms even in these most favourable localities. At first they are found about the stableyard, then in portions of ground enriched by stable manure, garden or meadow, till at length they may be found in all soils, either those cultivated or those pastured by domesticated animals.

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  1. 8, East Thirtieth Street, New York City, U.S.A., March 5

    • HY. F. WALKER


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