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Researchers try to identify mysterious Chelan worm


MOSCOW, Idaho -- Researchers at the University of Idaho are testing a 15-inch worm from the Chelan, Wash., area to determine whether it is a giant Palouse earthworm.


A homeowner found the worm on former farm ground and sent it to the laboratory, said Jodi Johnson-Maynard, an associate professor of soil science at UI.


Johnson-Maynard was awaiting DNA test results to determine whether it is the same species as the giant Palouse earthworm.


If it is, that could bode well for the species' survival, she said.


"It indicates they have more habitat than we thought," she said. "If that is the giant Palouse earthworm, does that mean it can survive in more places than just on the Palouse? Certainly, in my mind, that's a good thing for the earthworm."


But it would also create new questions about the possible distribution of the earthworm beyond the Palouse of Eastern Washington.


Johnson-Maynard would want to compare and contrast the ecosystem of the worm habitat in the Palouse region and the Chelan region.


-- Matthew Weaver



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