Greenhouse-gas emissions from soils increased by earthworms

I.M. Lubbers, K.J. van Groenigen, S.J. Fonte, J. Six, L. Brussaard, J.W. van Groenigen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

209 Citations (Scopus)


Earthworms play an essential part in determining the greenhouse-gas balance of soils worldwide, and their influence is expected to grow over the next decades. They are thought to stimulate carbon sequestration in soil aggregates, but also to increase emissions of the main greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Hence, it remains highly controversial whether earthworms predominantly affect soils to act as a net source or sink of greenhouse gases. Here, we provide a quantitative review of the overall effect of earthworms on the soil greenhouse-gas balance. Our results suggest that although earthworms are largely beneficial to soil fertility, they increase net soil greenhouse-gas emissions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-194
JournalNature Climate Change
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • nitrous-oxide fluxes
  • organic-matter dynamics
  • carbon-dioxide
  • ecosystem engineers
  • agricultural intensification
  • nitrifier denitrification
  • endogeic earthworms
  • microbial activity
  • n2o emission
  • crop residue

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