Effects of spatial and temporal variation in metal availability on earthworms in floodplain soils of the river Dommel, The Netherlands.Environ Pollut. 2007 Aug; 148(3):824-32.EP
Regarding impact on ecological soil functioning, metal pollution is often considered a constant factor for certain sampling sites. However, especially bioavailable concentrations may differ in space and time. This aspect was investigated on four sites along a metal-polluted river, differing in soil characteristics and metal concentrations. Every four weeks earthworm densities, soil characteristics, and metal concentrations in soil and earthworms were determined. Earthworm biomass and density fluctuated in time and increased with increasing metal contamination, indicating the presence of compensating factors. Multivariate analysis suggested organic matter and moisture content to be the main factors explaining earthworm biomass. Metal concentrations in the earthworms increased with increasing total or 0.01M CaCl(2) extractable soil concentrations, but no time-related trends were seen. Cadmium concentrations in the earthworms exceeded background values, suggesting a potential risk. The neutral red retention biomarker assay, however, did not show any signs of metal stress in the earthworms.