Liming upland grassland: The effects on earthworm communities and the chemical characteristics of carbon in casts

H. O. Bishop, I. C. Grieve, J. A. Chudek, D. W. Hopkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Different earthworm species have different tolerances of acid soil conditions, and the application of lime to upland grassland to improve the grazing quality may therefore alter the size and diversity of the earthworm community. Altering soil properties may also affect the chemical characteristics of organic C in earthworm casts. We surveyed the earthworm community of an upland grassland in southern Scotland at the outset of annual lime applications, and after 3 years, and used 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to assess the distribution of C between different functional groups in the organic matter. In addition, soil was incubated for 8 weeks with several earthworm species in the presence or absence of lime, and the earthworm casts were subsequently analysed by 13C NMR spectroscopy. Liming did not significantly affect earthworm abundance or species diversity, but it did affect the chemical composition of the casts. Casts from earthworms incubated in unlimed soil had greater ratios of alkyl-C to O-alkyl-C, indicative of more decomposed, recalcitrant C, and spectra from litter-feeding species had the greatest intensities of O-alkyl-C signals. In limed soil, the largest O-alkyl-C signal intensities were not restricted to litter-feeding species, indicating an increase in the quality of organic matter ingested by geophagous species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-531
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPrint publication - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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