Quantitative image analysis of earthworm-mediated soil displacement

Christina M. Barnett, Anthony G. Bengough, Blair M. McKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The way soil is disrupted and deformed by earthworm movement is hard to quantify non-destructively. Two anecic earthworm species, Aporrectodea longa (Ude) and Lumbricus terrestris L., were compared in their effect on the soil around them as they burrow. Image analysis (particle image velocimetry, PIV) was used successfully to quantify the distance and direction of soil particle displacement by earthworm locomotion giving a unique insight into their effect on the soil structure development. The data collected from both species using PIV show a decline in soil displacement at increasing distance from the earthworm's body. The quantity of soil being displaced was more to the sides of the earthworms (radially) than in front of the prostomium (axially). Also, L. terrestris displaced more soil than A. longa both axially and radially. The findings from this study suggest that PIV image analysis is a viable tool for examining soil displacement by earthworms and the method used has the potential to be applied to other soil organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-828
Number of pages8
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Volume45
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009

Keywords

  • Earthworms
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • Burrowing
  • Soil displacement
  • RAY COMPUTED-TOMOGRAPHY
  • LUMBRICUS-TERRESTRIS
  • APORRECTODEA-ROSEA
  • BURROW SYSTEMS
  • ROOT-GROWTH
  • VELOCIMETRY
  • COMPACTION
  • FORCES

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