Pedosphere 31(3): 384--390, 2021
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2021 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Earthworm community development in soils of a reclaimed steelworks
Kevin R. BUTT, Siobhan M. QUIGG
University of Central Lancashire, School of Forensic and Applied Sciences, Preston PR1 2HE (UK)
Corresponding Author:Kevin R. BUTT
      Long-term studies are essential to learn earthworm community development and soil formation post reclamation. Investigations were undertaken at a former steelworks site at Hallside, near Glasgow, UK, reclaimed in the 1990s using a mixture of colliery spoil and sewage sludge. The site was largely planted for production of short rotation coppice willow (Salix spp.). Earthworm inoculation formed a part of the restoration process. Minimal monitoring occurred in the interim, but some records of earthworm sampling existed in 2000 and 2005. This study focused on monitoring earthworms and soil properties across the site, drawing comparisons with adjacent unspoiled soil. Results showed that after 22 years, a species-rich community of earthworms (n=16) colonized the site, with endogeic Aporrectodea caliginosa being dominant by number and anecic A. longa by mass. Across the site, earthworm community density and biomass were 208 individuals m-2 and 71 g m-2, respectively. The Shannon diversity index for earthworms was 1.89, with an evenness of 0.68. The sewage sludge increased the soil organic matter, but the stone content of the colliery spoil prevented digging in some locations. Soil chemistry had no negative effect on earthworms, but the compacted substrate did hinder water infiltration. Earthworms colonized the reclaimed site from adjacent areas, and community structure and density below well-drained, scrub-free willow, birch, and grassland were not significantly different (P>0.05) from those of the adjacent unspoiled areas. The results show that the historical earthworm inoculation was unnecessary and badly timed. Future reclamations of similar sites can learn from this investigation.
Key Words:  colliery spoil,colonization,inoculation,land reclamation,pedogenesis,rehabilitation,sewage sludge,willow
Citation: Butt K R, Quigg S M. 2021. Earthworm community development in soils of a reclaimed steelworks. Pedosphere. 31(3): 384-390.
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