Mapping earthworm communities in Europe

M. Rutgers*, A. Orgiazzi, C. Gardi, J. Römbke, S. Jansch, A. Keith, R. Neilson, B. Boag, O. Schmidt, A.K. Murchie, R.P. Blackshaw, G. Pérès, D. Cluzeau, M. Guernion, M.J.I. Briones, J. Rodeiro, R. Pineiro, D.J. Diaz Cosin, J.P. Sousa, M. SuhadolcI. Kos, P.H. Krogh, J.H. Faber, C. Mulder, J.J. Bogte, H.J. van Wijnen, A.J. Schouten, D. de Zwart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Existing data sets on earthworm communities in Europe were collected, harmonized, collated, modelled and depicted on a soil biodiversity map. Digital Soil Mapping was applied using multiple regressions relating relatively low density earthworm community data to soil characteristics, land use, vegetation and climate factors (covariables) with a greater spatial resolution. Statistically significant relationships were used to build habitat–response models for maps depicting earthworm abundance and species diversity. While a good number of environmental predictors were significant in multiple regressions, geographical factors alone seem to be less relevant than climatic factors. Despite differing sampling protocols across the investigated European countries, land use and geological history were the most relevant factors determining the demography and diversity of the earthworms. Case studies from country-specific data sets (France, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands) demonstrated the importance and efficiency of large databases for the detection of large spatial patterns that could be subsequently applied at smaller (local) scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-111
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Digital Soil Mapping
  • Earthworm community
  • Soil Atlas
  • Soil biodiversity


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