Grigoropoulou, Niki and Butt, Kevin R.
Field investigations of Lumbricus terrestris spatial distribution and dispersal through monitoring of manipulated, enclosed plots.
Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 42
A field experiment in managed woodland was set up to examine the effects of manipulated population density and resource availability on spatial distribution and dispersal of the anecic earthworm Lumbricus terrestris. Experiments over 2 years, made use of 1 m2 field enclosures with associated trapping units to assess emigration rates at control and enhanced L. terrestris densities and different levels of leaf litter availability. Densities were manipulated twice; at the outset and again after 1 year when visually tagged animals obtained from 2 origins were introduced. Population density had a significant effect on dispersal (p < 0.01, p < 0.05 in Year 1 and Year 2 respectively) with more captures (pro rata) at the higher density compared with controls over the experimental period. Food availability only had a significant effect during the initial week of the experiment. L. terrestris midden arrangement was found to be regular across 1 m2 plots and regularity increased with an increase in midden number. Mean (±S.E.) midden number was 30.34 ± 0.77 m−2 and 28.06 ± 0.5 m−2, during the first and second year of the experiment respectively and this was unaffected by additions. Inter-midden distance was recorded at 0.13 ± 0.0014 m. Results suggest that L. terrestris dispersal can be affected by population density and resource availability.
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