Subproject: Earthworms

Spatial and temporal dynamics during the change to organic managment on arable fields


Earthworms are one of the most important animal group in nutrient turnover and water regulation of soils. Within the project, earthworms are sampled since the year 2001 in monthly intervals at a grid of 85 sites from April to June and September to November. On average 10 species were recorded with a mean density of 92 ind./m² and 5 g ash free biomass/m². The spatial and temporal distribution of density and biomass depended on climate and change of management from conventional to organic agriculture. The density of Lumbricus terrestris increased on organically managed fields, whereas L. rubellus was positively correlated with rainfall. In the dry year 2003 a breakdown of the earthworm population was observed, in the wet year 2002 waterlogged sites in spring were characterised by low densities of earthworms that regenerated not until the 2nd year. In total, the bioturbation by earthworms was estimated between 24 and 50 t/ha on the agricultural fields.



Earthworms, spatiotemporal dynamics, organic farming, climatic effects, bioturbation


Subproject Information

Project runtime: Since 2001-05-01

Scientific coordination: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Irmler

Scientific staff: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Irmler

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