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Earthworms as Bioindicators of Soil Quality

  • Heinz-Christian Fründ
  • Ulfert Graefe
  • Sabine Tischer
Chapter
Part of the Soil Biology book series (SOILBIOL, volume 24)

Abstract

Earthworms can indicate soil quality by (1) the abundance and species composition of the earthworm fauna at a particular site, (2) the behavior of individual earthworms in contact with a soil substrate (preference/avoidance/activity), (3) the accumulation of chemicals from the soil into the body, and (4) the biochemical/cytological stress-biomarkers in the earthworm. Earthworms are assessed in several long-term soil monitoring programs in Europe. Abundance data of earthworms may not only represent soil quality because weather and food are also important factors of influence. The ISO-avoidance test and tests with 2D (two-dimensional) terraria are laboratory assays with behavioral endpoints that can supplement the field monitoring of earthworm abundance. The analysis of chemical concentrations in earthworms has been used to indicate the risk of secondary poisoning for worm-feeding predators and to get an estimate of the bioavailability of contaminants in the soil. Bioaccumulation factors (BAF) for chemicals in earthworms can differ considerably from site to site and from species to species indicating that the bioavailability of a contaminant is influenced by chemical, physical, behavioral, and physiological parameters.

Keywords

Soil Quality Avoidance Test Soil Substrate Earthworm Species Heptachlor Epoxide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heinz-Christian Fründ
    • 1
  • Ulfert Graefe
    • 2
  • Sabine Tischer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Agriculture and Landscape ArchitectureFachhochschule Osnabrück-University of Applied SciencesOsnabrückGermany
  2. 2.IFAB Institute for Applied Soil Biology GmbHHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Department of Soil Biology and Soil EcologyMartin-Luther-Universität HalleHalle (Saale)Germany

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