Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 3, Issue 1–2, pp 51–55 | Cite as

Radiation ecology of soil animals

  • D. A. Krivolutsky


In this paper the use of animals in organic litter and in the mineral part of soils as bioindicators of ionizing radiation is reviewed. Soil animals are the most suitable biological indicators of radioactive pollution because they are parts of nutritional chains and webs, occur in relatively high numbers and can be collected during most parts of the year. Insects and other forest-dwelling invertebrates are more resistant to radioactive pollution than vertebrates, probably because of the shielding effects of soil constituents. In experiments with 90Sr, 137Cs, 106Ru, 95Zr, 65Zn 125Sb and 239Pu on different components of the mesofauna, earthworms (Oligochaeta) and Myriapoda (Diplopoda and Chilopoda) were affected most intensively, probably because these organisms have an intimate inside and outside contact with soil constituents in the upper layers of the soils. Soil dwellers that are only transitorily in soil or characterized by rapid distribution (predatory Coleoptera, flying insects) are less affected by radiation. Under natural conditions, the doses of irradiation of animals in the upper forest layers are lower than those of dwellers within soil. Forest insects that hibernate in soils at the egg or larval stage are most intensively affected and reduced by radiation. Earthworms prove particularly sensitive to an increased Ra-radiation background. They are among the best bioindicators of polluted soils.

Key words

Soil fauna Ionizing radiation effects Permanent and temporary soil dwellers Radioactive pollution Edaphon Earthworms Bioindicators 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ghilarov MA, Krivolutsky DA (1972) Radioecological researchs in soil zoology. Proc IV Coll Pedobiol (Paris-Dijon), pp 537–544Google Scholar
  2. Korganova GA (1973) Influence of experimental soil pollution with 90Sr on the fauna of soil protists (in Russian). Zool J 52:939–941Google Scholar
  3. Krivolutsky DA (1980) The effect of an increased Ra content on the soil animals. Proc VII Int Coll Soil Zool, Syracuse, USA, pp 391–396Google Scholar
  4. Krivolutsky DA (1984) Earthworms as bioindicators of radioactive soil pollution. In: Int Symp biological monitoring of the state of the environment (bioindicators), Abstracts. Indian Natl Acad, New Delhi, pp 66–67Google Scholar
  5. Krivolutsky DA, Korganova GA, Tichomirov FA (1983) Some radioecological problems of terrestrial and soil animals. In: Lebrun Ph, André HP, De Meats H, Greguire-Wibo C, Wanthy G (eds) New trends in soil biology. Dien-Buchart, Louvain La-Neuve, Belgium, pp 463–469Google Scholar
  6. Krivolutsky DA, Turčaninova VA, Mikhaltzova ZA (1981) Earthworms as bioindicators of radioactive soil pollution. Pedobiologia 23:263–265Google Scholar
  7. Krivolutsky DA, Pokarzhevsky AD (1977) The role of soil animals in nutrient cycling in forest and steppe. Ecol Bull (Stockholm) 25:253–260Google Scholar
  8. Krivolutsky DA, Tichomirova AL, Turchaninova VA (1973) Strukturanderungen des Tierbesatzes (Land- und Bodenwirbellosen) unter dem Einfluß der Kontamination des Bodens mit 90Sr. Pedobiologia 12:374–380Google Scholar
  9. Pokarzhevsky AD, Krivolutsky DA (1975) The role of pedobionts in biochemical cycles of calcium and strontium-90 in the ecosystems. In: Progress in soil zoology. Prague 1975, pp 249–254Google Scholar
  10. Tikhomirov FA (1972) The effect of ionizing radiation on the ecosystems (in Russian). Atomizdat, pp 3–5Google Scholar
  11. Tikhomirov FA (1973) The effect of gamma-ionizing on Lymantria dispar population (in Russian). Ecologia 5:15–21Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. A. Krivolutsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Evolutionary Morphology and Ecology of AnimalsMoscow W-71USSR

Personalised recommendations