Aim of this study was to determine effects of heavy metals on litter consumption by the earthworm Lumbricus rubellus in National Park the "Brabantsche Biesbosch", the Netherlands. Adult L. rubellus were collected from 12 polluted and from one unpolluted field site. Earthworms collected at the unpolluted site were kept in their native soil and in soil from each of the 12 Biesbosch sites. Earthworms collected in the Biesbosch were kept in their native soils. Non-polluted poplar (Populus sp.) litter was offered as a food source and litter consumption and earthworm biomass were determined after 54 days. Cd, Cu and Zn concentrations were determined in soil, pore water and 0.01 M CaCl2 extracts of the soil and in earthworms. In spite of low available metal concentrations in the polluted soils, Cd, Cu and Zn concentrations in L. rubellus were increased. The litter consumption rate per biomass was positively related to internal Cd and Zn concentrations of earthworms collected from the Biesbosch and kept in native soil. A possible explanation is an increased demand for energy, needed for the regulation and detoxification of heavy metals. Litter consumption per biomass of earthworms from the reference site and kept in the polluted Biesbosch soils, was not related to any of the determined soil characteristics and metal concentrations. ?? 2005 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
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Effects of heavy metals on the litter consumption by the earthworm Lumbricus rubellus in field soils