Global worming: Earthworms add to climate change

Feb 05, 2013

(Phys.org)—Earthworms are long revered for their beneficial role in soil fertility, but with the good comes the bad: they also increase greenhouse gas emissions from soils, according to a study published Feb. 3 in Nature Climate Change by a research team that includes a University of California, Davis, soil scientist.

The team found that earthworms do not, as was suspected, stimulate in the soil, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, they actually increase greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of ways.

"There was a hypothesis that earthworms were having a positive effect on the greenhouse balance, but they don't," said co-author Johan Six, a plant sciences professor at UC Davis during the study who is now a professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. "I would never say you have to take out the earthworms because of greenhouse gases. It's just that you cannot give them credit for reducing greenhouse gases."

The scientific team was led by Jan Willen van Groenigen of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and, along with UC Davis, included colleagues from Trinity College Dublin, and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia.

The team gathered all relevant published research to date: 57 different experiments.

The research team then employed a statistical technique called meta-analysis to discern overall patterns in the data.

They found that the presence of earthworms increased nitrous from soil by 42 percent and from soil by 33 percent. But they found no indications that earthworms affect soil organic —the carbon stored within the soil.

According to the researchers, earthworms likely increase greenhouse gas emissions several ways: they mix organic plant residues in the soil, which may increase decomposition and carbon dioxide emissions; the earthworm gut acts as a microbial incubator, boosting the activity of nitrous oxide-producing microbes; and the earthworms, by burrowing through the soil, make it easier for in the soil to escape into the atmosphere.

Small changes in soil greenhouse gas dynamics can have important repercussions for global warming, the researchers said. But lead author Ingrid Lubbers from Wageningen University said it is not yet clear to what extent the effects of earthworms on plant growth may negate earthworm-induced increases in .

"Our literature search also pointed out a large gap in the published studies," Lubbers said. "We need more experiments that include growing plants, as well as more long-term studies and more field studies before we can decide to what extent global worming leads to global warming."

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User comments : 33

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PJS
4.5 / 5 (8) Feb 05, 2013
i would venture to say that everything on earth contributes to climate change, in one way or another
obama_socks
2.2 / 5 (17) Feb 05, 2013
Earthworm castings are a valuable source of nutrients required by plants. Their tunneling through hard-packed soil enables plant roots to reach those vital nutrients and water source. Now the earthworm joins the list of much maligned humans and animals, etc. in the AGW war on life and life's necessities. Perhaps the AGW mob prefers Earth to be as lifeless as the Moon and Mars?
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (35) Feb 05, 2013
We need to ban earth worms.

I think that if man is too incompetent to have designed a better earth, and we are by far,... they're also not incompetent in ability to understand all aspects and interplay of it, in order to "fix" it or even to decide when its meaningful to say that its broken.
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (9) Feb 05, 2013
Earth worms are not native to North Ameria, and were transplanted by European settlers.

http://en.wikiped..._America

"Earthworm castings are a valuable source of nutrients required by plants." - Sox
VendicarE
2.8 / 5 (9) Feb 05, 2013
It is clear that NumenTard is intellectually incompetent.

"We need to ban earth worms.' - Numentard

He is destined to remain a dish washer.
Maggnus
3.9 / 5 (8) Feb 05, 2013
I knew when I first saw this report that it would be misinterpreted.

Now the earthworm joins the list of much maligned humans and animals, etc.


Although I probably shouldn't, I continue to be surprised at how foolish people can be.
mrcoldheart
4.1 / 5 (7) Feb 05, 2013
Others have beat me to it but...

This just in!

Organisms contribute to climate change!
obama_socks
2.9 / 5 (20) Feb 05, 2013
Earth worms are not native to North Ameria, and were transplanted by European settlers.

http://en.wikiped..._America

"Earthworm castings are a valuable source of nutrients required by plants." - Sox
-Venditardietardtard...E

From your Wikipedia link, you have failed to either read or comprehend the following from your link:

"Of the 182 taxa of earthworms found in the United States of America and Canada, 60 or almost 33% are invasive species.[4] Specifically, Lumbricus terrestris, L. rubellus, L. friendi, and Dendrobaena octaedra have been studied for their ability to invade previously uninhabited locations and disturb the local ecosystems."

What does this mean? It means that OUT OF 182 TAXA OF EARTHWORMS FOUND IN THE USA AND CANADA, 60 out of those 182 are invasive species from Europe.

This means that 122 earthworm species are native to the United States and Canada, and the other 60 taxa are the ones causing problems.
obama_socks
2.6 / 5 (17) Feb 05, 2013
It is clear that NumenTard is intellectually incompetent.

"We need to ban earth worms.' - Numentard

He is destined to remain a dish washer.
-Venditardietardtard...E

VD fails once again at understanding the bit of sarcastic humor submitted by Noumenon. It is not too surprising, as Venditardietardtard...E, as the self-admitted bitter enemy of America and its people and Americanism, cannot but display total disrespect toward his betters and is intolerant of ideas not his own.
Surely, there must be a cure for such bitter hatred that does not include invasive brain surgery.

The article was not about invasive earthworm species from Europe; however, we thank VD for his information gathered from Wiki and, hopefully, the invasion will cease as a way is found to eliminate the 60 taxa of earthworm invaders as described in VD's Wiki info. Perhaps some nematode species?
ValeriaT
4 / 5 (8) Feb 05, 2013
..the team found that earthworms do not, as was suspected, stimulate carbon sequestration in the soil..
Many species of earthworm can use the prehensile prostomium to grab and drag items like grasses and leaves. In this video you can follow the earthworm during this action, so we have an observable evidence of dragging activity. Worm casts can contain 40% more humus than the top 9" (23 cm) of soil in which the worm is living. Without earthworms the necrotic plants and fallen leaves from trees will oxidize at the soil surface into carbon dioxide. Whereas with earthworms the portion of this organic matter is dragged beneath the soil surface, which will both slow down its oxidation, both will contribute into formation of beneficial layer of hummus. At the moment, when earthworms contribute into storage of portion of organic carbon in the underground, then I can see no reason for the opposite stance.
ValeriaT
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 05, 2013
The dragging and burring of leaves with earthworms is pictured even in this BBS video narrated with famous David Attenborough. Of course, when the leaves are missing in artificial controlled experiments, the the earthworms have no opportunity to save the carbon before oxidation - but after then whole the experiments get crippled.
obama_socks
2 / 5 (12) Feb 05, 2013
ValeriaT gets fives from me for that important information.
Benni
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 05, 2013
Every living organism in existence creates greenhouse gases, there are no exceptions, it's part of the life-cycle. Volcanic & forest fire activity far & away create the most intense & dramatic forms of greenhouse gases with methane from all sources being the most lethal........

Want to eliminate greenhouse gases from the planet? Get rid of all lifeforms, then nobody will care about the contribution of volcanic action & forest fires.
VendicarE
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 05, 2013
Of course. That is why there is no greenhouse effect on Venus or Mars.

"Want to eliminate greenhouse gases from the planet? Get rid of all lifeforms" - BenniTard
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (9) Feb 05, 2013
Sox doesn't think well enough to comprehend the difference between a subspecies population size and the subspecies count.

Neither does Sox comprehend the difference between a species range and it's subspecies count.

"This means that 122 earthworm species are native to the United States and Canada, and the other 60 taxa are the ones causing problems." - Sox

Sox remains blissfully unaware of the fact that virtually no subspecies of worm survived glaciation in the north, where Earthworms are a transplanted species from Europe.

Finally, the article in question is referring to worms distributed globally rather than simply worms distributed in the southern U.S.

Again Sox's first reaction is to presume that the U.S. is the entire world.

Pathetic.
antonima
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 05, 2013
Ahem, this study is more or less pulled out of thin air. The researchers didn't do any actual experiments just compiled 57 other studies.
Shakescene21
4 / 5 (8) Feb 05, 2013
"But lead author Ingrid Lubbers from Wageningen University said it is not yet clear to what extent the effects of earthworms on plant growth may negate earthworm-induced increases in greenhouse gas emissions."

This so-called analysis did not account for the fact that earthworms increase plant growth by improving the soil, thus increasing carbon sequestration by growing plants.
VendicarE
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 05, 2013
It is called a meta-analysis.

"just compiled 57 other studies." - Antonima

They are becoming more common as a means of providing a snapshot of the existing literature, as knowledge expands and it becomes more difficult for scientists to keep up.
obama_socks
2.2 / 5 (14) Feb 06, 2013
Sox doesn't think well enough to comprehend the difference between a subspecies population size and the subspecies count.


Neither the Physorg article nor your Wiki article are referring to any of the earthworms as a "subspecies". (From Wiki): Earthworms are from the suborder Lumbricina, Earthworms are considered keystone species, since they alter many different variables of their ecosystem drastically since they are detritivores.

Neither does Sox comprehend the difference between a species range and it's subspecies count.

"This means that 122 earthworm species are native to the United States and Canada, and the other 60 taxa are the ones causing problems." - Sox


Again there is nothing said in either article about subspecies. By range, I assume that you mean how far in any direction the earthworms can migrate. I would assume that the native to the U.S. earthworm will range as far north where the ground does not freeze too deeply and food is plentiful.

Sinister1811
2.5 / 5 (11) Feb 06, 2013
Ahem, this study is more or less pulled out of thin air. The researchers didn't do any actual experiments just compiled 57 other studies.


So? It's a summary of other studies, and they're all linked together. Meant to give this post a 1.
obama_socks
2.3 / 5 (12) Feb 06, 2013
Sox remains blissfully unaware of the fact that virtually no subspecies of worm survived glaciation in the north, where Earthworms are a transplanted species from Europe.


Europe and Asia, according to your Wiki article. Obviously, glaciation would tend to kill earthworms since there are so few falling leaves and grass blades, or none at all to consume. The prolonged freezing condition would eliminate earthworms from such locations.
But the Physorg article talks about the discovery that earthworms help to release CO2 and Nitrous Oxide into the atmosphere, whereas, your Wiki article is in re: forests in the north are being affected by the earthworms due to the trees, saplings and undergrowth that depend on the nutrients being readily available at the surface, but not so deep that young saplings with shallow roots cannot reach those nutrients. Your Wiki article is interesting, but it said nothing about GHG sequestration…only that the young plants are dying. Death by earthworm.
VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 06, 2013
Sox sometimes just makes random comments without context or meaning.

"Europe and Asia, according to your Wiki article." - Sox.

He thinks they mean something.

"Obviously, glaciation would tend to kill earthworms since there are so few falling leaves and grass blades, or none at all to consume." - Sox

Yes, of course. It is the lack of leaves that killed the earth worms during glaciation. It isn't the fact that a mile high layer of ice would crush them, scrape off the soil (their habitat) from the northern continent, freeze them, and then grind them to pulp.

It was the lack of leaves..... Obviously...
VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 06, 2013
No. Soxxie. That isn't what range means in the context it is being used (ecology).

"By range, I assume that you mean how far in any direction the earthworms can migrate." - Sox

You poor Tard. Other than how to run from bullets, didn't you learn anything in school?

VendicarE
3 / 5 (8) Feb 06, 2013
Sadly, ShakeTard didn't read the paper.

"This so-called analysis did not account for the fact that earthworms increase plant growth by improving the soil." - ShakeTard

He just needs to imagine what it contains, and use that as the basis of his comments.

It is called reasoning by ideological faith.
obama_socks
2.4 / 5 (14) Feb 06, 2013
Finally, the article in question is referring to worms distributed globally rather than simply worms distributed in the southern U.S.
Again Sox's first reaction is to presume that the U.S. is the entire world. Pathetic.

I am fairly certain that earthworms have migrated to many parts of the world ever since all the continents were still connected. Any introduction of earthworms to north America by Europeans were unnecessary, imo, since southern earthworms can do the job better than any immigrants to the U.S.
But, since Canada and the northern U.S. do undergo some hard freezes, I suppose importing some European or Asian earthworms would have been considered as the right thing to do, except that now your northern forests are said to be not doing too well. Invasive earthworms allowed to flourish in forests where there were no earthworms previously...That IS pathetic.

My first reaction? How DO you arrive at such a conclusion?
obama_socks
2.4 / 5 (14) Feb 06, 2013
Sox sometimes just makes random comments without context or meaning.

"Europe and Asia, according to your Wiki article." - Sox.

He thinks they mean something.

"Obviously, glaciation would tend to kill earthworms since there are so few falling leaves and grass blades, or none at all to consume." - Sox

Yes, of course. It is the lack of leaves that killed the earth worms during glaciation. It isn't the fact that a mile high layer of ice would crush them, scrape off the soil (their habitat) from the northern continent, freeze them, and then grind them to pulp.

It was the lack of leaves..... Obviously...
Venditardietardtard...E

You had said "Europe", and I refined it by adding Asia as it says in your Wiki article. Do connect the dots if you are able.
Before glaciation is complete, at its beginning there is starvation of all life where the glaciation occurs. The earthworms would all have died of starvation first before any advance of mile high layer of ice could crush them.
The Alchemist
2.3 / 5 (12) Feb 06, 2013
I can't think of a more carbon neutral article. Whatever they do, they do in equilibrium with our current situation. So.. why study it? I mean the obvious is, they are animals and breath, right? Of course without them, if I understand correctly, the Earth becomes compacted and plant-life starts to die. That would cause some bad GW.
@Obama sox-I find the rare gems that Vendi the fifth has are not worth the filth you need to did through to get them. Ignore 'im.
obama_socks
2.7 / 5 (15) Feb 06, 2013
@TheAlchemist
Earthworms serve a good purpose to clean up the debris caused by the wind and/or change of seasons. Every living thing has an impact on every other living thing.
In fact, I came to a realization long ago that for a living thing to continue living, some other living thing has to die, whether it's a plant, or an animal, it does not matter. One life in exchange for another life is the law of Nature. Even a little thing like a tree dropping its leaves...something else benefits by it, and the leaves get recycled. Nature is rebirth, reclamation and recycling, and it is a beautiful system.

Dummy
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 06, 2013
Earthworms, guns, and fiscal responsibility. The enemies of mankind.
Shakescene21
3.5 / 5 (11) Feb 06, 2013
@VD You clown, didn't you even read the abstract? Didn't you even read my quote from the abstract? To make it easy enough for you, here it is again, tard:

"But lead author Ingrid Lubbers from Wageningen University said it is not yet clear to what extent the effects of earthworms on plant growth may negate earthworm-induced increases in greenhouse gas emissions."

The author admits that their analysis did not measure whether the effects of increased plant growth caused by earthworms would offset the increased emmisions caused by earthworms in their activities. Thus, they have a ridiculously incomplete analysis with a foolish conclusion, because a major impact of earthworms in the environment is to improve soil fertility. Their conclusion is analagous to Ronald Reagan's statement that "trees emit more CO2 than people do". (Reagan admitted he was not a scientist so he didn't understand that trees emit O2 during the day and some CO2 at night.)
The Alchemist
2.8 / 5 (13) Feb 07, 2013
May I ask who is the fool who goes through and ranks comments by author instead of content? A quick stat. analysis reveals someone does not even have to read our comments to judge them.
How tiny.
Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (35) Feb 09, 2013
I assume you're referring to the "lite" troll. I'm not sure but it is either, FrankHerbert, VendicarE, Caliban, or GhostOfOtto1923,..... or their retarded 13 year old son.

Those responsible for Phys.Org apparently don't have time to mod the site, deal with email requests about trolls, nor know how to use the web software. They should just disable the ratings, or allow ratings for certain members only, or allow ratings for those who have a certain number of posts, or allow rating or commenting for donating members only, or don't allow registration with unverified web email accounts like yahoo or gmail or hotmail,.... etc.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (13) Feb 12, 2013
I assume you're referring to the "lite" troll. I'm not sure but it is either, FrankHerbert, VendicarE, Caliban, or GhostOfOtto1923,..... or their retarded 13 year old son.
Not me nou - as I have pointed out many times, and as anyone can plainly see, lite often 1/5s me. I too think it is tiny.