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The effects of lime, gypsum and wheat straw on four species of earthworms in a red-brown earth in South Australia



The effects of lime, gypsum and wheat straw on four species of earthworms in a red-brown earth in South Australia



Acta Zoologica Fennica 0(196): 150-155



The effects of calcium (lime and gypsum) and wheat straw (0, 5 and 10 t/ha/yr) on the abundance of species of earthworm was were examined in a field trial in red-brown earth. Soil ameliorants were applied annually and incorporated into the top 10 cm of soil. The earthworm populations and the density of surface macropores were assessed in the fourth year. Liming increased soil pH from 4.1 to 6.7 and was associated in a substantial increase in the abundance of Aporrectodea rosea and Microscolex dubius, no effect on the abundance of Aporrectodea trapezoides and a reduction in the abundance of Microscolex phosphoreus. Adding gypsum had little effect on soil pH and had no significant effect on the abundance of (A. trapezoides, A. rosea and M. dubius). Adding straw resulted in a significant increase in the abundance of all four species but A. rosea and M. dubius were most strongly affected. The net result of these processes was a major shift in the relative abundance of species. The control treatment (no straw or calcium) was dominated by A. trapezoides (73% of worm biomass) whereas the limed treatments with organic matter were dominated by A. rosea and M. dubius which together made up 80% of the worm biomass. The number of surface macropores increased with the number of earthworms but the number of surface-opening macropores per worm decreased as the amount of added organic matter increased.

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