Can you use earthworms to indicate healthy soil?



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Can you use earthworms to indicate healthy soil?
Natural History Live by Professor Mark Hodson

The humble earthworm is valued by farmers and gardeners alike for its contribution to healthy soils. But if you dig two holes in a field, you can find earthworms in the soil from one but not in the other. What controls the distribution of earthworms has remained a poorly understood question since the time of Darwin. In this talk we’ll discuss whether finding earthworms in soil is a good indicator of a healthy soil, what factors control the presence of earthworms in soil and how many holes you have to dig to find an earthworm.

Mark Hodson began his research career studying how magma chambers solidified below volcanoes in Greenland millions of years ago but his need for a job lead him into the world of soils. Research on cleaning up metal contaminated soils introduced him to the use of earthworms as indicators of “healthy soil” and he has been investigating various aspects of earthworm ecology ever since.

Find our speaker, Mark Hodson on twitter:
@MarkEHodson
https://twitter.com/MarkEHodson

Useful links:
- The Earthworm Society of Britain: https://www.earthwormsoc.org.uk/
- FSC Discovering Earthworms courses: https://www.field-studies-council.org/courses-and-experiences/natural-history-courses/?fwp_keyword_search=earthworm
-Discovering earthworms online course: https://www.field-studies-council.org/shop/courses/discovering-earthworms-2022/

Other resources:
Earthworm ecological categories: https://www.earthwormsoc.org.uk/earthworm-ecology

Literature
Kille, P., Andre, J., Anderson, C., Ang, H.N., Bruford, M.W., Bundy, J.G., Donnelly, R., Hodson, M.E., Juma, G., Lahive, E., Morgan, A.J., Stürzenbaum, S.R. and Spurgeon, D.J., 2013. DNA sequence variation and methylation in an arsenic tolerant earthworm population. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, [online] 57, pp.524–532. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.10.014. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0241945

Andre, J., King, R.A., Stürzenbaum, S.R., Kille, P., Hodson, M.E. and Morgan, A.J., 2010. Molecular genetic differentiation in earthworms inhabiting a heterogeneous Pb-polluted landscape. Environmental Pollution, [online] 158(3), pp.883–890. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2009.09.021.: https://pure.york.ac.uk/portal/files/12644643/Andre_et_al._2010_Env._Poll._158_883_890.pdf

Kille, P., Andre, J., Anderson, C., Ang, H.N., Bruford, M.W., Bundy, J.G., Donnelly, R., Hodson, M.E., Juma, G., Lahive, E., Morgan, A.J., Stürzenbaum, S.R. and Spurgeon, D.J., 2013. DNA sequence variation and methylation in an arsenic tolerant earthworm population. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, [online] 57, pp.524–532. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.10.014.: https://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/75061/

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Category
Management
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