Does an earthworm species acclimatize and/or adapt to soil calcium conditions? The consequences of soil nitrogen mineralization in forest soil
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Calcium (Ca)-rich food can increase feeding of Lumbricidae. Earthworms can be genetically differentiated at a small spatial scale and acclimatize to the local environment during growth. Soil feeding and subsequent cast production by earthworms affects soil N mineralization. Here, we hypothesized that soil feeding and subsequent cast production by Lumbricidae species increases with high soil Ca content and that this increase is stronger in worms from high-Ca soil. We also hypothesized that changes in the soil feeding of Lumbricidae species along with the Ca content affects the soil N mineralization via changes in the cast production. Using a geophageous earthworm species (Eisenia japonica) originated from two different Ca environments (calcareous soil and sedimentary soil), we investigated cast production and soil N mineralization in three soils (sedimentary soil, sedimentary soil with Ca addition, and calcareous soil). The soil feeding of E. japonica from both origins did not always increase despite the high soil Ca content. We suggest that both the Ca content and other soil conditions (e.g., soil C:N) might be major factors in increasing soil feeding by E. japonica. Furthermore, the influence of Ca addition on cast production varied according to the earthworm origin. As expected, these differences in cast production are linked to soil N mineralization (especially nitrification). In summary, our study suggests that the acclimatization and/or adaptation of Lumbricidae species to local environmental factors not only soil Ca content explains spatially heterogeneous soil N mineralization in forest soil.
KeywordsBiogeochemistry Stoichiometry Nitrogen dynamics Evolution Aggregate
We acknowledge Mr. T. Miura in Nakatonbetsu Town and the technical staff of Tesio Experimental Forest of Hokkaido University for their support during the research. We also sincerely thank Dr. K. Takagi, Professor Y. Hashidoko, Ms. R. Isoda and Ms. E. Marumo for their comments on this project. The analysis of soil and earthworm samples was carried out with ICPE-9000 at the OPEN FACILITY, Hokkaido University Sousei Hall. This project is financially supported by JSPS for young researchers (Type B to K.M.) and by the Kuribayashi Ikuei Foundation.
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