Main content area

Avoidance, biomass and survival response of soil dwelling (endogeic) earthworms to OECD artificial soil: potential implications for earthworm ecotoxicology

Brami, C., Glover, A. R., Butt, K. R., Lowe, C. N.
Ecotoxicology 2017 v.26 no.4 pp. 576-579
Allolobophora chlorotica, Octolasion cyaneum, avoidance behavior, biomass, earthworms, ecotoxicology, particle size, sand, soil texture
Soil dwelling earthworms are now adopted more widely in ecotoxicology, so it is vital to establish if standardised test parameters remain applicable. The main aim of this study was to determine the influence of OECD artificial soil on selected soil-dwelling, endogeic earthworm species. In an initial experiment, biomass change in mature Allolobophora chlorotica was recorded in Standard OECD Artificial Soil (AS) and also in Kettering Loam (KL). In a second experiment, avoidance behaviour was recorded in a linear gradient with varying proportions of AS and KL (100% AS, 75% AS + 25% KL, 50% KS + 50% KL, 25% AS + 75% KL, 100% KL) with either A. chlorotica or Octolasion cyaneum. Results showed a significant decrease in A. chlorotica biomass in AS relative to KL, and in the linear gradient, both earthworm species preferentially occupied sections containing higher proportions of KL over AS. Soil texture and specifically % composition and particle size of sand are proposed as key factors that influenced observed results. This research suggests that more suitable substrates are required for ecotoxicology tests with soil dwelling earthworms.