A simple and effective method to keep earthworms confined to open-top mesocosmsby Ingrid M. Lubbers, Jan Willem van Groenigen

Applied Soil Ecology


Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous) / Soil Science / Ecology


Applied Soil Ecology 64 (2013) 190–193

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A simp orm open-t

Ingrid M

Department of s a r t i c l

Article history:

Received 28 O

Received in re

Accepted 8 De


Open-top mes

Adhesive hook

A. caliginosa

L. rubellus

L. terrestris

A. longa ct on soil, d exp lant e in c (cont arthw ris (L the cape r escape rates (20%) for A. caliginosa from the PVC mesocosms. When hook tape was applied, in either one or two layers, no individuals of those species escaped. The two anecic earthworm species, L. terrestris and

A. longa did not escape from any mesocosms, irrespective of the presence of hook tape. As not a single earthworm escaped from the hook tape treatments, we conclude that applying hook tape is a simple, inexpensive and effective method to keep earthworms confined to experimental units. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. 1. Introdu

Earthwo biota. As eco ical and ph ecosystem the soil gre drainage (S one of the m

Studying practical ch their ability by themean lengthen th provide the rior region

The earthw abovegroun cating muc easy to esc ∗ Correspon

E-mail add 0929-1393/$ – http://dx.doi.oction rms rank among the most important of the higher soil system engineers, they can affect soil microbial, chemysical parameters profoundly, thereby influencing soil services as diverse as plant productivity (Scheu, 2003), enhouse gas balance (Lubbers et al., in press) and soil hipitalo et al., 2004). This important role makes them ost studied soil fauna groups. earthworms in controlled experiments can pose some allenges (Fru˝nd et al., 2010). This is especially true for to escape from experimental units. Earthworms move s ofmuscular contractions that alternately shorten and ebody. The bristles (setae) set along its segmentedbody necessary grip to push the body forward, the anteanchoring itself and the rear end drawing-up after it. orm’s process of movement, underground as well as d, is facilitated by the secretion of slimy and lubrius (Sims and Gerard, 1985). This makes it relatively ape from experimental units such as mesocosms, for ding author. Tel.: +31 317 482350; fax: +31 317 419000. ress: Ingrid.Lubbers@wur.nl (I.M. Lubbers). examplebyclimbingoutvertically along the inside rimof themesocosm.

Reasons for earthworms escaping from experimental units can be many-fold. Factors that influence dispersal behaviour in general are habitat quality and population density, as well as pre-conditioning of the soil by other earthworms or even other earthworm species (Mathieu et al., 2010). Lowe and Butt (2005) mention critical abiotic and biotic factors that directly affect habitat quality for earthworms, including soil moisture, organic matter, temperature, pH, and earthwormspecies composition. These are all parameters that are routinely manipulated in experimental studies involving earthworms (either to study earthwormbehaviour or, more often, to quantify their effect on specific ecosystem services).

For these reasons earthworm dispersal out of open-top mesocosms is often undesirable and researchers generally want to prevent earthworm migration.

Several measures to prevent earthworms from escaping are mentioned in the literature. In the field, a common method is the application of very fine meshes across the top and bottom of the experimental units (Borken et al., 2000; Desjardins et al., 2003;

Fonte et al., 2010; Haimi and Huhta, 1990; Simek and Pizl, 2010;

Zhang et al., 2010). In laboratory studies, experimental units are often simply closed with lids, although it is unclear whether this is done to keep earthworms inside or for other reasons (e.g. gas flux see front matter © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. rg/10.1016/j.apsoil.2012.12.008le and effective method to keep earthw op mesocosms . Lubbers ∗, Jan Willem van Groenigen

Soil Quality, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherland e i n f o ctober 2012 vised form 4 December 2012 cember 2012 ocosms tape a b s t r a c t

Earthworms can have a profound effe

To better understand their role in the a persistent problem in such controlle mental units with open tops (e.g. for p to the inside of mesocosms is effectiv was set upwith hook tape treatments ride – PVC, polypropylene – PP) and e caliginosa (Savigny), Lumbricus terrest escape of earthworms during 24h. In

A. caliginosa escaped, with highest esm/locate /apsoi l s confined to a myriad of soil physical, chemical and microbial parameters. they are often studied under controlled conditions. However, eriments is the ability of earthworms to escape from experigrowth). Here, we tested whether adhesive hook tape applied onfining them to their experimental units. A mesocosm study rol, one layer, two layers),mesocosmmaterial (polyvinylchloorm species (Lumbricus rubellus (Hoffmeister), Aporrectodea .) +Aporrectodea longa (Ude)) as different factors to study the treatments without hook tape, individuals of L. rubellus and ates (80%) for L. rubellus from the PP mesocosms, and lowest

I.M. Lubbers, J.W. van Groenigen / Applied Soil Ecology 64 (2013) 190–193 191 measurements) (Butenschoen et al., 2007, 2009; Contreras-Ramos et al., 2009; Hedde et al., 2007; Marhan et al., 2007, 2010; Marhan and Scheu, 2005, 2006). Other authors prevent earthworms from escaping by covering mesocosms with black poly ethylene covers that allowg et al., 2007; ever, all of t involve gro plant and/o

As far a mesocosms with measu ple, Schmid rim of rou measures h ing, nor ho 2009).

An alter (part of the

Lubbers et upper inner earthworm well as in a s of its perfor cosm mater is potential to solve a p experiment

The obje tape is in pr (i) that mos egy, can esc prevents all 2. Materia

On 22Oc the effectiv fined to me treatments groups: epi (a control w ers of hook material). W total numbe

For the the differen the Netherl (epigeic; fo (Savigny) ( of Lumbricu one individ mesocosm) individuals in the vicin sandy soil w experiment from Starfo