Earthworms are the major component of the soil fauna in temperate agro-ecosystems. Land use and soil management are widely reported to influence earthworm populations. We report simple laboratory experiments in which earthworm survival was tested against uniaxial loads for a range of soil conditions. Across all the experimental conditions 86% of earthworms survived. While greater loads (up to 800 kPa) over longer exposure times (up to 60 s) decreased survival; even under the most severe test conditions 33% of earthworms survived. Our results suggest that decreased earthworm populations in compacted soil are not due to uniaxial loading alone, but may be the result of shearing the soil during loading or from changes to the soil properties.
- Soil compaction