Earthworm feeding activity and development of the humus profile

  • Bernier N
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Abstract

Earthworm casts and digestive tract contents were simultaneously examined, using the same methods, in a recently formed humus profile in a mountain spruce forest. Earthworm species had distinct diets and an earthworm foodweb could be distinguished. Lumbricus terrestris and Aporrectodea icterica were distinct from the other species examined: the former to some extent as a litter consumer, and both species because they excavated mineral material which was deposited within new top layers of the mull humus. Aporrectodea nocturna and Aporrectodea caliginosa both had a non-specific soil feeding mode. Most of the species enriched the humus profile with amorphous organic matter finely incorporated within a mineral matrix. Besides different food selection, a network of burrows was produced as a consequence of the different burrowing behaviour of each earthworm species.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Earthworm casts
  • Earthworm diets
  • Food selection
  • Humus profile
  • Spruce forest

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