Earthworm cast production as a new behavioural biomarker for toxicity testing

  • Capowiez Y
  • Dittbrenner N
  • Rault M
 et al. 
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There is currently a lack of ecotoxicity tests adapted to earthworm species of higher ecological relevance and whose endpoints could be directly related to their ecological role in the soil. We propose a new and relatively simple ecotoxicity test based on the estimation of cast production (CP) by Lumbricus terrestris under laboratory conditions. CP was found to be linearly correlated to earthworm biomass and to be greatly influenced by soil water content. Azinphos-methyl had no effect on CP at all the concentrations tested. Significant decreases were observed at the normal application rate for other pesticides with (imidacloprid, carbaryl, methomyl) or without (ethyl-parathion and chlorpyrifos-ethyl) a clear concentration-effect response. For the highest concentration tested, reduction in CP varied between 35 and 67%. CP is straightforward and rapidly measured and ecologically meaningful. We thus believe it to be of great use as an endpoint in ecotoxicity testing. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Carbamates
  • Egestion rate
  • Imidacloprid
  • Lumbricus terrestris
  • Organophosphorous insecticides

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