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Burrowing and casting activities of three endogeic earthworm species affected by organic matter location

Abstract : Earthworms are crucial for production and maintenance of soil structure and their activities can stronglyimpact soil functioning (e.g. water regulation, nutrient dynamics). This laboratory study investigatedthe bioturbation activity of three endogeic species, Allolobophora chlorotica, Allolobophora icterica andAporrectodea caliginosa, as affected by different locations of organic matter (OM) in the soil profile: OMscattered on the soil surface (surface-OM) or homogeneously mixed into the soil (mixed-OM). Micro-cosms, each containing a combination of one species (three individuals) and one OM location, weresubjected to controlled environmental conditions (temperature, humidity and day/night cycle) for 60days. At the end of the experiment, microcosms were cut into multiple horizontal cross-sections everycentimetre and bioturbation activities were analyzed based on the number of burrows, the burrowedarea and the percentage of burrowed area totally refilled with casts.Results showed that regardless of species, there was significantly fewer burrows and a greater percent-age of burrowed area refilled with casts under mixed-OM than under surface-OM. A. chlorotica and A.caliginosa had a significantly greater burrowed area under mixed-OM than under surface-OM. Regardlessof OM location, as depth increased, burrow number and area decreased for A. chlorotica and generallyincreased for A. icterica. In contrast, burrowing activity of A. caliginosa was affected by OM location asdepth increased: under mixed-OM, burrow number decreased but burrowed area remained constant,whereas under surface-OM, burrow number remained constant and burrowed area increased.These results improve understanding of effects of endogeic species on soil structure and highlighteffects of OM location on earthworm bioturbation. Especially this study gives information about theburrowing activity of A. icterica which has so far been little documented, and also informs about refilledburrows which is a major parameter for soil functioning.
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Alexis Le Couteulx, Cédric Wolf, Vincent Hallaire, Guenola Peres. Burrowing and casting activities of three endogeic earthworm species affected by organic matter location. Pedobiologia, Elsevier, 2015, 58 (2-3), pp.97-103. ⟨10.1016/j.pedobi.2015.04.004⟩. ⟨hal-01149439⟩

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