Subscribe Now Subscribe Today
Abstract
Fulltext PDF
References
Research Article
 
Abundance, Biomass and Vertical Distribution of Earthworms in Ecosystem Units of Hornbeam Forest



Y. Kooch, H. Jalilvand, M.A. Bahmanyar and M.R. Pormajidian
 
ABSTRACT

The objectives of this study were to investigate the abundance, biomass and practical distribution of earthworms in ecosystem and tried to identify the factors affecting earthworm populations during different environmental conditions. Density and biomass of earthworms were studied in ecosystem unit`s khanikan forests (North of Iran) in July 2006. Eighteen soil profiles (50x50 cm) to the depth of 30 cm were digged and soil samples were taken from organic horizon (litter layer) and mineral layers (0-10, 10-20 and 20-30 cm). Earthworms were collected by hand sorting method, then oven-dried at 60°C and weighed. Comparison number and biomass of earthworms in various layers of soil have showed that most number was in third layer (63.63%) and the least number was in second layer (13.63%). Also, biomass of earthworms in third layer was the most (79.39%) and was the least in second layer (7.57%). Results of this research indicated that correlation between number and biomass of earthworms with C/N, biomass of earthworms with carbon of soil and number of earthworms with theirs biomass were significant. Correlation between number and biomass of earthworms with the other soil properties investigated was no significant.

Services
Related Articles in ASCI
Similar Articles in this Journal
Search in Google Scholar
View Citation
Report Citation

 
  How to cite this article:

Y. Kooch, H. Jalilvand, M.A. Bahmanyar and M.R. Pormajidian, 2008. Abundance, Biomass and Vertical Distribution of Earthworms in Ecosystem Units of Hornbeam Forest. Journal of Biological Sciences, 8: 1033-1038.

DOI: 10.3923/jbs.2008.1033.1038

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=jbs.2008.1033.1038

INTRODUCTION

Earthworms are the best known and perhaps the most important animals that live in soil. Over 3500 earthworm species have been recognized in worldwide and it is estimated that further surveys will reveal this number to be much larger (Deleporte, 2001; Bohlen, 2002). Earthworms alter soil properties in ways that are beneficial to plant growth by improving soil structure for better aeration, water intake and water transmission and, are known to have various beneficial effects on soil physical properties (Kimmins, 1987; Haynes et al., 2003; Rombke et al., 2005; Sautter et al., 2006).

Earthworms play a major role in soil nutrient dynamics by altering the soil physical, chemical and biological properties. Their casts, burrows and associated middens constitute a very favourable microenvironment for microbial activity (Hale et al., 2005; Hale and Host, 2005). They affect nutrient cycling by modifying soil porosity (Ammer et al., 2005) and aggregates structure (Sheehan et al., 2006), changing the distribution and rates of decomposition of plant litter and altering the composition, biomass and activity of soil microbial communities (Jimens et al., 2006).

Where earthworms are abundant, direct fluxes of nutrients through theirs biomass can be considerable, for example, up to 150 kg of nitrogen per h per year have been reported to turn over in earthworm tissue (Neirynck et al., 2000; Hendrix and Bohlen, 2002; Hale et al., 2005). Earthworm`s species can be grouped according to behavioral, morphological or physiological adaptations that enable them to partition available resources in the soil. The three main life history strategies are termed epi, anecic and endogeic (Bohlen, 2002; Haynes et al., 2003; Hale et al., 2005; Hale and Host, 2005; Muratake, 2005; Amador et al., 2006). Earthworms are the most important members of soil detritivors in temperate forests. Soil productivity and plant growth are significantly affected by biological activities of earthworms. Density and biomass of earthworms represent the biological activity and quality of given soils (Rahmani, 1998).

Investigation on the earthworm`s population and its relationship with vegetation and soil is a necessity for determining the ecological potential of forest stands. Earthworms population is 1-850 m2 (0.5-300 g m-2) and biomass of earthworms estimated 30 g m-2 (± 20) in temperate forests (Saleh Rastin, 1978).

The enhancement of their numbers and biomass and consequently their effect on soil fertility are of great interest. In many studies it has been shown that the low earthworm densities found in conifer stands and earthworm productivity can be temporarily enhanced by liming. This often results in a clear change of the humus type after liming (Huhtaq, 1979; Persson, 1988; Ammer and Makaeschin, 1994; Judas, 2002).

It is not clear whether earthworm populations are mainly controlled by the amount of food, its quality, or the chemical properties of their environment (Huhta et al., 1986; Scheu and Schaefer, 1998; Aubert et al., 2003; Scheu et al., 2003; Gonzalez et al., 2003) and in which way they are affected by competitive interactions and predation by other invertebrates. The objectives of the present study were to investigation of abundance, biomass and vertical distribution of earthworms in ecosystem units of study area and tried to identify the factors affecting earthworm populations over a wide range of sites with different environmental conditions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Study area: Khanikan forests are located in the lowland and midland of Mazandaran province in north of Iran with 2807 ha. (Between 36° 33´ 15", 36° 37´ 45" latitude and between 51° 23´ 45", 51° 27´ 45" longitude). The maximum elevation is 1400 m and the minimum elevation is 50 m. Minimum temperature is recorded in December (7.5°C) while the highest temperature in June (24.6°C). Mean annual precipitation of the study area were from 237.6 mm to 47.5 mm at the Noushahr city metrological station, which is 10 km far from study area (Anonymous, 2003).

Determine of ecosystem units (Forest types): In order to investigate of vegetation and differentiation of ecosystem units was sampled quadrates in mid-summer 2007. 268.7 ha-1 areas of Khanikan forests were selected. Randomized-systematic method was considered with 60 quadrates and 400 m2 (20 mx20 m) AR (Hedman et al., 2000; Grant and Loneragan, 2001; Mesdaghi, 2001) Vegetation data (trees, shrub and herbs) including cover percentage were estimated quantitatively within quadrate and with the use of Two-Way Indicator Species Analysis (TWINSPAN) and vegetation was classified into 5 different groups. These types as follows: Menta aquatica, Oplismenus undulatifolius, Carex grioletia, Viola odarata and Rubus cearius.

Soil sampling and data collections: After investigate of vegetation and determination of ecosystem units and calculate Sorenson similarity coefficient between groups, the sum 18 profiles (50x50 cm) excavated of determined ecosystem units. Soil samples were selected from organic horizon (litter layer) and mineral layers (0-10, 10-20 and 20-30 cm). Earthworms were removed from the soil by hand- sorting method, washed in water and they were weighed with 0.0001g precision. Species of earthworms were identified (epigeic, anecic and endogeic) by external characteristics using the key of Edwards and Bohlen (1996). Biomass was defined as the weight of the worms after drying for 48 h on filter paper at room temperature (60°C) (Edwards and Bohlen, 1996). Large live plant material (root and shoots) and pebbles in each sample were separated by hand and discarded. The soil samples were air-dried and sieved. Soil pH (saturation paste), bulk density (BD) (clod method), saturation moisture (SP) (weighting method), Electrical Conductivity (EC) (conductivity meter), organic carbon C (Black, 1979), total nitrogen N (Kjeldahl method), Cation Exchangeable Capacity (CEC) (flame photometry method), extractable phosphorous (P) (Olson method), soil texture (hydrometer method), carbon litter (Clit) (Walkey and black method) and nitrogen litter (Nlit) (Kjelteck method) were determined.

Data analysis method: The windows (Ver. 3.0) of PC-ORD (McCune and Mefford, 1999) were used for classification of vegetation. Comparing of means of environmental factors amongst forest types and also study of inter-relationships between these variables was done by one way ANOVA (Analysis of variance) method SAS program version 9.1 was used for ANOVA.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Earthworms have identified in each types. 31.48 and 68.52% of earthworms were endogeic and anecic, respectively. Carex grioletia type had the most number of earthworms (45.45%), Oplismenus undulatifolium and Rubus caesius types had the least number of earthworms (9.09%). Biomass of earthworms in Menta aquatica type was the most (41.27%) and in Rubus caesius type was the least (1.97%). Comparison number and biomass of earthworms in various layers of soil have showed that most number was in third layer (63.63%) and the least number was in second layer (13.63%). Also, biomass of earthworms in third layer was the most (79.39%) and was the least in second layer (7.57%) (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Percentage abundance and biomass ecological groups of earthworms in different types (a, b) and soil layers (c, d)

Table 1: Mean of soil properties in study area (in different vegetation types)
BD: Bulk density , SP: Saturation moisture, Clit: Carbon of litter, Nlit: Nitrogen of litter

Results of this study indicated that correlation between number and biomass of earthworms with soil properties (Table 1) such as C/N, biomass of earthworms with Carbon of soil and number of earthworms with theirs biomass were significant. Correlation between number and biomass of earthworms with the other soil properties investigated was no significant (Table 2).

Table 2: ANOVA for number and biomass of earthworms in relation to soil properties

Forest exploitation has increased due to increase of human populations and application woods in many industries. Plain forests north of Iran have destroyed due to entry of heavy logging machines to purpose much logging. This is important that presence and absence of earthworms depended by organic matter and litters. With forest destroyed, organic matter and litters have lost. Result of this research has showed (Fig. 1) that scatter of earthworms is not homogenous and various species of earthworms exists in different depths (Wood, 1995; Holscher et al., 1999).

The most worldwide soils, earthworms have seasonal migration in vertical direction that it is due to unfavourable conditions in higher layers of soil. Temperature and moisture of soil are the effective factors (Wood, 1995; Edwards et al., 1973; Saleh, 1978; Iman Nejad and Rahmani, 2005). More density of earthworms in deeper soils (20-30 cm) in this research is due to this subject (Fig. 1).

Favorable conditions exist in spring and autumn seasons for growth of earthworms, thus, increases their populations. In winter and summer season`s unfavourable conditions such as cold of winter and height of summer decreases their population (Rahmani, 1998). Earthworms in summer and winter seasons will migrate to more depths of soils and abides in there (Haghparast, 1993; Rahmani, 1998; Six et al., 2004).

Correlation between number and biomass of earthworms were investigated with the some soil properties (Table 1). Results have showed significant correlation between number and biomass of earthworms with C/N of soil (p< 0.05), Biomass of earthworms with carbon of soil (p<0.05) and between number and biomass of earthworms (p<0.001) (Table 2). Number and biomass of earthworms are fewer in soils with higher C/N. This result confirms those obtained in previous studies. Wood (1995) had resulted the mineral matters are necessity for growth of earthworms and biomass of earthworms are much is soils with fewer C/N. Neirynck et al. (2000) researches had showed that the fewer C/N of soils in beneath of Pseudo platanus crown cover is suitable for presence of earthworms. Rahmani and Saleh Rastin (2000) resulted the number of earthworms is depended to C/N of soil and higher C/N decreases earthworm populations.

In soils with strong biological activities, content of C/N is low (<10) (Habibi Kaseb, 1992) but in this research C/N content was between 9.8-13.7 (Table 2), thus, pay attention to this subject, biological activities of study area soils were weak. Also, exists significant negative correlation between biomass of earthworms with carbon of soil. Correlation between numbers of earthworms with carbon of soil was close to significant (p>f = 0.0636). Acidity of soils study area was low in all types and is similar in various depths. Totally, earthworms are sensitive to pH and in acidophilus forest sites with similar soil pH and humus form (moder or mor) species richness and abundance are low (Wood and James, 1993; Edwards and Bohlen, 1996; Neirynck et al., 2000; Six et al., 2004).

Between number of earthworms and theirs biomass exists significant positive correlation (p<0.001). This result is similar to results of research of Haynes et al. (2003) that more presence of earthworms in soil resulted more biomass. Epigeic ecological groups, prefers conditions with high nutrition and litters with low C/N. Endogeic and anecic ecological groups are tolerance to unfavourable conditions and enable tolerates soil dry because of they are enable to migrate higher depths of soil (Hale and Host, 2005). This subject is visible in this research (Fig. 1). Correlation between number and biomass of earthworms with the other soil properties investigated was no significant.

Earthworms are known to have a positive influence on the soil fabric and on the decomposition and mineralization of litter by breaking down organic matter and producing large amounts of fasces, thereby mixing litter with the mineral soil. Therefore, they play an important part in changes from one humus from to another according to forest succession patterns. Consequently, the are also expected to be good bio-indicators for forest site quality and are thus useful when planning forest production improvement. Earthworm`s populations are as indicator that in exploited regions is destruction indicator and reclamation plans is nature return indicator.

REFERENCES
Amador, J., J. Gorres and C. Savin, 2006. Effects of Lumbricus territories L. on nitrogen dynamics beyond the burrow. Applied Soil Econ., 33: 61-66.
Direct Link  |  

Ammer, S. and F. Makaeschin, 1994. Auswirkungen experimenteller saurer beregnung und kalkung auf die regenwurmfauna und die humusform in einem fichtenaltbestand. Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt, 113: 70-85.
CrossRef  |  Direct Link  |  

Ammer, S., K. Weber, C. Abs, C. Ammer and J. Prietzel, 2006. Factors influencing the distribution and abundance of earthworm Communities in pure and converted scots pine stands. Applied Soil Ecology, 33: 10-21.
CrossRef  |  

Anonymous, 2003. Khanikan Forest Management. Organization of Forest and Range and Watershed Management, Islamic Republic of Iran, pp: 350.

Aubert, M., M. Hedde, T. Decaens, F. Bureau, P. Margerie and D. Alard, 2003. Effects of tree canopy composition on earthworms and other macro-invertebrates in beech forests of upper Normandy (France). Pedobiologia, 47: 904-912.
Direct Link  |  

Black, C.A., 1979. Methods of soil analysis. Am. Soc. Agron., 2: 771-1572.

Bohlen, J., 2002. Earthworms. Encyclopedia Soil Sci., pp: 370-375.

Deleporte, S., 2001. Changes in the earthworm community of an acidophilus lowland beech forest during a stand rotation. Soil Biol., 37: 1-7.
Direct Link  |  

Edwards, C.A. and P.J. Bohlen, 1996. Biology and Ecology of Earthworms. 3rd Edn., Chapman and Hall, London, UK., ISBN-13: 9780412561603, Pages: 426.

Edwards, C.A., D.E. Reichle and J.R. Crossley, 1973. The Role of Soil Invertebrates in Turnover of Organic Matter and Nutrients. In: Analysis of Temperate Forest Ecosystem, Reichle, D.E. (Ed.). Springer and Berlin, Berlin, Germany, pp: 147-172.

Gonzalez, G., T.R. Seastedt and Z. Donato, 2003. Earthworms, arthropods and plant litter decomposition in aspen and lodge pole pine forests in Colorado, USA. Pedobiologia, 47: 863-869.
Direct Link  |  

Grant, C.D. and W.A. Loneragan, 2001. The effects of burning on the under story composition of rehabilitee bauxite mines bin Western Australia: Community changes vegetation succession. For. Ecol. Manage., 145: 255-277.
Direct Link  |  

Habibi Kaseb, H., 1992. Fundamental of Forest Pedology. Publishing of Tehran University, Tehran.

Haghparast, T.M., 1993. Soil Biology and Agriculture Soils. 1st Edn., Publishing of Islamic Azad Unoiversity, Rasht, pp: 342.

Hale, C. and E. Host, 2005. Assessing the impacts of European earthworm invasions in beech-maple hardwood and aspen-fir boreal forests of the western Great Lakes region. National park service Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network Report GLKN/2005/11.

Hale, C.M., L.E. Frelich, P.B. Reich and J. Pastor, 2005. Effects of European earthworm invasion on soil characteristics in Northern Hardwood forests of Minnesota, USA. Ecosystem, 8: 911-927.
Direct Link  |  

Haynes, R.J., C.S. Dominy and M.H. Graham, 2003. Effect of agricultural land use on soil organic matter status and the composition of earthworm communities in Kwazulu-natal, South Africa. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ., 95: 453-464.
Direct Link  |  

Hedman, C.W., S.L. Grace and S.E. Ling, 2000. Vegetation composition and structure of Southern coastal plain pine forests: An ecological comparison. For. Ecol. Manage., 134: 233-247.
Direct Link  |  

Hendrix, P.F. and P.G. Bonlen, 2002. Exotic Earthworm invasions in North America: Ecological and policy implications. Bioscience, 9: 1-11.
Direct Link  |  

Holscher, D., N. Asche and F. Beese, 1999. Langfristigie effekte einer waldkalkung auf bodenchemische parameter, mikrobielle biomass und regenwurmbesats. Forstarchiv, 70: 127-132.
Direct Link  |  

Huhta, V., R. Hyvonen, A. Koskenmiemi, P. Vilkamaa, P. Kassalainen and M. Sulander, 1986. Response of soil fauna to fertilities and manipulation of pH in coniferous forests. Acta For. Fenn., 195: 1-31.

Huhtaq, V., 1979. Effects of liming and deciduous litter on earthworm populations of a spruce forest with an inoculation experiment on Allolobophora caliginous. Pedobiologia, 19: 340-345.
Direct Link  |  

Iman Nejad, F. and R. Rahmani, 2005. Relation between number and biomass of earthworms with tree species and soil properties. M.Sc. Thesis, Gorgan University.

Jimens, J., P. Lavelle and T. Decaens, 2006. The efficiency of soil hand-sorting in assessing the abundance and biomass of earthworm community's. Its usefulness in population dynamics and cohort analysis studies. Eur. J. Soil Biol., 42: S225-S230.
Direct Link  |  

Judas, M., 2002. Effekte von meliorations-kalkungen auf gruppen der boden-makrofauna. Forstarchiv, 73: 83-91.
Direct Link  |  

Kimmins, J.P., 1987. Forest Ecology: A Foundation for Sustainable Management. 1st Edn., The University of British Columbia, Columbia, pp: 596.

McCune, B. and M. Mefford, 1999. Multivariate Analysis of Ecological Data Version 4.17. M.J.M Software. 1st Edn., Glenden Beach, Oregon, USA., pp: 233.

Mesdaghi, M., 2001. Vegetation Description and Analysis: A Practical Approach. 1st Edn., Jehad Daneshgahi of Mashhad, Mashhad, pp: 161-179.

Muratake, S., 2005. Effects of exotic Earthworms on northern hardwood forests in North America. 1st Edn., Student on-line Journal, University of Minnesota, ST. Paul, MN., USA, pp: 45.

Neirynck, J., S. Mirtcheva, G. Sioen and N. Lust, 2000. Impact of Tilia platyphyllos scop. Fraxinus exceslsior L., Acer pseudoplatanusl, Quercus robur L. and Fagus sylvatica L. on earthworm biomass and physico-chemical properties of loamy topsoil. For. Ecol. Manage., 133: 275-286.
Direct Link  |  

Persson, T., 1988. Effects of liming on the soil fauna in forests-a literature review. Stantens naturvardsverk, Rapport, 3418: 92.

Rahmani, R. and N. Saleh Rastin, 2000. Abundance vertical distribution and seasonal changes in earthworm's populations of Oak-Hornbeam, Hornbeam and Beech Forest in Neka, Caspian Forests, Iran. Iran. J. Nat. Res., 53: 37-52.

Rahmani, R., 1998. Investigation of population and biodiversity of invertebrates in forest types of Neka. Ph.D. Thesis, Tarbiat Modarres University.

Rombke, J., S. Jansch and W. Didden, 2005. The use of earthworms in ecological soil classification and assessment concepts. Ecotoxicol. Environ. Safety, 62: 249-265.
CrossRef  |  Direct Link  |  

Saleh, R.N., 1978. Soil Biology. 1st Edn., Publishing of Tehran University, Tehran, Iran, pp: 325.

Sautter, K.D., C.G. Brown, S.W. James, D.H. Pasini, N. Nunesand and P. Benito, 2006. Present knowledge on earthworm biodiversity in the state of Parana. Brazil. Eur. J. Soil Biol., 42: S296-S300.
Direct Link  |  

Scheu, S. and M. Schaefer, 1998. Bottom-up control of the soil macro fauna community in a beech wood on limestone: Manipulation of food resources. Ecology, 79: 1573-1585.
Direct Link  |  

Scheu, S., D. Albers, J. Alphei, R. Buryn, U. Klages, S. Migge, C. Platner and J. Salmon, 2003. The soil fauna community in pure and mixed stands of beech and spruce of different age: Tropic structure and strutting forces. Oikos, 110: 163-169.

Sheehan, L., J. Kirwan, L. Connolly and T. Bolger, 2006. The effects of earthworm functional group diversity on nitrogen dynamics in soils. Soil Biol. Biochem., 38: 2629-2636.
Direct Link  |  

Six, J., H. Bossuyt, S. Degryze and K. Denef, 2004. A history of research on the link between (micro) aggregates, soil biota and soil organic matter dynamics. Soil Tillage Res., 79: 7-31.
CrossRef  |  Direct Link  |  

Wood, B. and S. James, 1993. Native and Introduced Earthworms from Selected Chaparral, Woodland and Riparian Zones in Southern California. 1st Edn., Pacific Southwest Research Station Albany, California.

Wood, M., 1995. Environmental Soil Biology. 2nd Edn., Blackie Academic and Professional, Glasgow, pp: 150.

©  2019 Science Alert. All Rights Reserved
Fulltext PDF References Abstract