Flooding responses of three earthworm species, Allolobophora chlorotica, Aporrectodea caliginosa and Lumbricus rubellus, in a laboratory-controlled environment

M.I. Zorn, C.A.M. van Gestel, W.E. Morriën, M. Wagenaar, H.J.P. Eijsackers

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To get a better understanding of earthworm' responses towards flooding, three laboratory experiments were performed with the species Allolobophora chlorotica, Aporrectodea caliginosa and Lumbricus rubellus. Flooding response was determined in a pot experiment, in which the earthworms were incubated for 42 days in flooded or non-flooded soil, with or without heavy metal pollution. To determine moisture preference, earthworms were incubated for 9 days in aquaria with five compartments, containing soil with a moisture gradient (%, w/w), ranging from 35%, 45% (field capacity), 55%, 65% (saturated) to 65% + (saturated and an extra water layer). Effects on earthworm health were studied by incubating earthworms of each species for 42 days in soil with the same range of moisture contents and determining the dry/wet weight ratio and dry weight gain as an indication of earthworm health. A. chlorotica was tolerant to water, although the worms tended to escape from flooded soil. Their health was significantly lower in the flooded soils (P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-593
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008



  • river floodplains
  • soil
  • contamination
  • populations
  • grassland
  • dynamics

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