“Darwin’s Worms and the Skin of the Earth: An Introduction to Charles Darwin’s The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms, With Observations on their Habits (Selections)”, (coauthored with Brett Clark and Richard York, Clark listed first), Organization and Environment, vol. 22, no. 3 (September 2009), pp. 338-50.
Charles Darwin’s discovery of the theory of evolution by natural selection is unquestionably one of the most profound scientific achievements in history. Darwin was heavily influenced by the great geologist Charles Lyell, who developed uniformitarianism, the methodological and substantive doctrine that sought to explain all geological formations as the result of the accumulation of small events happening continually over long periods of time. In The Formation of Vegetable Mould, Through the Action of Worms, with Observations on Their Habits, Darwin—inspired by Lyell’s grand conception—focused on how worms transform the surface of the earth through their constant, everyday activities.They contribute to the formation of soil,turning it over and over,which enhances the circulation of nutrients within ecosystems.All studies of nature are indebted to Darwin for his devotion to illustrating the power of the materialist approach and for illuminating how the world works through its natural processes, including the invisible labor of worms.