Soil seed banks are vital to forest plant community regeneration, having long been viewed as a refuge for seeds vulnerable to granivory. Here evidence is provided suggesting many seeds entering the seed bank are subject to previously underestimated rates of granivory via the commonly found invasive earthworm, Lumbricus terrestris.
Results from an earthworm-addition microcosm experiment suggest nearly 70% of seeds are removed from the soil surface when exposed one earthworm. Results from a separate granivore exclusion field experiment indicate granivory by rodents eclipses that of earthworms under more natural conditions. When analyzed individually it is clear that different granivores target certain species of seed over others. This suggests that although rodents are the main driver of seed predation, earthworms may have the potential to act as an ecological filter, potentially further influencing the species composition of future forest plant communities by selectively targeting certain seeds, or seed traits, over others.