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Assessment of earthworm contribution to soil hydrology: a laboratory method to measure water diffusion through burrow walls

Abstract : The capacity for water diffusion in burrow walls (i.e. the coefficient of sorptivity) either burrowed by Lumbricus terrestris (T-Worm) or artificially created (T-Artificial) was studied through an experimental design in a 2D terrarium. In addition, the soil density of earthworm casts, burrow walls (0–3 mm around the burrow) and the surrounding soil (>3 mm) were measured using the method of petroleum immersion. This study demonstrated that the quantity of water which transits through burrows of L. terrestris in the soil matrix was lower than that transited through soil fractures, due to a reduction of soil porosity in burrow walls (compaction: cast > wormrsquos burrow walls > surrounding soil > artificial burrow walls). Earthworm behaviour, in particular burrow reuse with associated cast pressing on walls, could explain the larger burrow wall compaction in earthworm burrows. If water diffusion was lower through the compacted burrows, burrow reuse by the worms makes them more stable (worms would maintain the structure over years) than unused burrows. The present experimental design could be used to test and measure the specific differences between earthworm species in their contributions to water diffusion. Probably, these contributions depend on the presumed related-species behaviours which would determine the degree of burrow wall compaction.
Mots-clés : HYDROLOGIE VER DE TERRE
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Submitted on : Sunday, May 31, 2020 - 7:34:07 PM
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F. Bastardie, Stéphane Ruy, Daniel Cluzeau. Assessment of earthworm contribution to soil hydrology: a laboratory method to measure water diffusion through burrow walls. Biology and Fertility of Soils, Springer Verlag, 2005, 41 (2), pp.124-128. ⟨10.1007/s00374-004-0817-4⟩. ⟨hal-02677594⟩

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