Butt, Kevin Richard
Food quality affects production of Lumbricus terrestris (L.) under controlled environmental conditions.
Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 43
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2011.06.021
Birch leaves and horse manure were used to determine the effects of food quality on growth and reproduction of laboratory-reared Lumbricus terrestris. Animals grew to maturity within 6 months but attained a significantly (p < 0.001) larger adult size with manure (6.17 g) versus leaves (4.20 g). Cocoon production by recently-mated adults maintained in isolation, fed with birch leaves or horse manure, resulted in 4.53 and 3.84 cocoons ind.−1 month−1 respectively, with an initial hatchability of 86%, falling to zero after 18 months. Re-mating of these known individuals permitted long term monitoring of reproductive output (to 30 months). For the whole experimental period, overall hatchability of the 2010 cocoons produced was 44.4%. Median incubation time of those cocoons that hatched within accepted norms (less than 5 months at 15 °C) was 103 days and was not influenced by adult food type. A proportion (35.5%) of cocoons took in excess of 12 months to hatch. Adult mortality was minimal (25%) during the long term experiment but abnormal cocoon production was recorded after 2 years. Overall results demonstrate that food quality can have a significant influence on somatic and reproductive production of L. terrestris and these data may aid construction of production models for this earthworm in ecosystems with contrasting food quality.
Repository Staff Only: item control page