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Dehydration does not affect the radial pressures produced by the earthworm Aporrectodea caliginosa

Stovold, R. J., Whalley, W. R. and Harris, P. J. (2003) Dehydration does not affect the radial pressures produced by the earthworm Aporrectodea caliginosa. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 37 (1). pp. 23-28. ISSN 0178-2762

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00374-002-0563-4

Abstract/Summary

As a soil dries, the earthworms in that soil dehydrate and become less active. Moisture stress may weaken an earthworm, lowering the radial pressure that the animal can produce. This possibility was investigated for the earthworm Aporrectodea caliginosa (Savigny). Pressures were compared for saturated earthworms (worms taken from saturated soil) and stressed earthworms (worms that had been partially dehydrated by leaving them in dry soil). A load cell was used to record the forces that earthworms produced as they moved through artificial burrows (holes that had been drilled through blocks of aluminium or Perspex). The radial pressure was calculated using the forces exerted and the dimensions of the artificial burrows. There was a negative correlation between burrow diameter and radial pressure, although radial pressure was independent of the length of the block through which the earthworms had burrowed. The highest radial pressures were produced by the anterior segments of the animal. Partial dehydration caused the earthworms to become quiescent, but did not decrease the radial pressure that the earthworms produced. It is suggested that coelomic fluid is retained in the anterior segments while the rest of the animal dehydrates. Dehydrated earthworms became lethargic, and we suggest that lethargy is due to the loss of coelomic fluid from the posterior segments. Coelomic fluid is known to be lost through dorsal pores. In burrowing species of earthworm such as Aporrectodea caliginosa, these pores are only present on the posterior segments.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:4136
Uncontrolled Keywords:earthworm radial pressure dehydration stress LUMBRICUS-TERRESTRIS SOIL COMPACTION LONGA ROSEA
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