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Morphological and functional characterisation of the burrow systems of six earthworm species (Lumbricidae)

Capowiez, Yvan and Bottinelli, Nicolas and Sammartino, Stephane and Michel, Eric and Jouquet, Pascal (2015) Morphological and functional characterisation of the burrow systems of six earthworm species (Lumbricidae). In: BIOLOGY AND FERTILITY OF SOILS, 51 (7). pp. 869-877.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00374-015-1036-x


Earthworm burrow systems are generally described based on postulated behaviours associated with the three ecological types. In this study, we used X-ray tomography to obtain 3D information on the burrowing behaviour of six very common anecic (Aporrectodea nocturna and Lumbricus terrestris) and endogeic (Aporrectodea rosea, Allolobophora chlorotica, Aporrectodea caliginosa, Aporrectodea icterica) earthworm species, introduced into repacked soil cores for 6 weeks. A simple water infiltration test, the Beerkan method, was also used to assess some functional properties of these burrow systems. Endogeic worms make larger burrow systems, which are more highly branched, less continuous and of smaller diameter, than those of anecic worms. Among the anecic species, L. terrestris burrow systems are shorter (9.2 vs 21.2 m) with a higher number (14.5 vs 23.5) of less branched burrows (12.2 vs 20.2 branches m(-1)), which are also wider (7.78 vs 5.16 mm) than those of A. nocturna. In comparison, the burrow systems made by endogeic species appeared similar to each other. However, A. rosea burrows were short and narrow, whereas A. icterica had a longer burrow system (15.7 m), more intense bioturbation intensity (refilled macropores or soil lateral compaction around them) and thus a greater number of burrows. Regarding water infiltration, anecic burrow systems were far more efficient due to open burrows linking the top and bottom of the cores. For endogeic species, we observed a linear relationship between burrow length and the water infiltration rate (R (2) = 0.49, p < 0.01). Overall, the three main characteristics significantly influencing water infiltration were burrow length, burrow number and bioturbation volume. This last characteristic highlighted the effect of burrow refilling by casts.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the SPRINGER, 233 SPRING ST, NEW YORK, NY 10013 USA
Keywords: Water infiltration; Macropores; Bioturbation; Aporrectodea icterica; Lumbricus terrestris; Aporrectodea caliginosa
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Civil Engineering
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2015 05:35
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2015 05:35
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/52539

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