Relationships between enchytraeid worms (Oligochaeta), climate change, and the release of dissolved organic carbon from blanket peat in northern England

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Over a period of 1 yr, we examined the dynamics of a community of enchytraeid worms in a blanket peat soil in relation to the prevailing climate and the release of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Our objectives were two-fold: first, we aimed to establish whether there is a relationship between climatic variables and the density of enchytraeid populations; and also assess whether changes in the density of enchytraeid populations, caused by climate, were related to the release of DOC. Our second aim was to predict the consequences of atmospheric warming for the enchytraeid community at the site, and, in turn, the biological contribution to DOC release. Positive linear relationships between the abundance of enchytraeids and soil temperature were found, as well as with concentrations of DOC in the soil solution: We calculate that at mean field density, enchytraeids currently account for up to 26% of the DOC produced in the surface (upper 10 cm) blanket peat. These relationships suggest that future soil warming caused by climate change could increase enchytraeid abundance by 43% and C release by 11% in these peatlands, based on an increase in mean monthly air temperatures of 2.5°C. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-607
Number of pages8
JournalSoil Biology and Biochemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002