Most people hate those wiggly slimy crawlers on the ground but they are really important to our well-being. You know what I’m talking about right? EARTHWORMS!! They are really fun to play with when we were little but not so much anymore. I’ll tell you one thing though; gardeners and farmers love these little guys. They help aerate the soil by digging burrows into the ground kind of like secret tunnels in a diamond mind. These burrows allow easier access for oxygen and other nutrients to enter the soil and contact roots of crops. This oxygen helps produce crops and other vegetation which in turn is a source of food for us. Yay, go earthworms!
The importance of these little guys made me wonder which type of habitats they prefer to live in and so I decided to do my project on Earthworm habitat preferences. I tested 4 different conditions, these were: moisture level (wet vs. dry), light Intensity (light vs. dark), nutrient content (apple infused soil vs. normal soil), and temperature (warm vs. cold).
Out of all four conditions the one I had the most fun setting up was the nutrient level experiment. It was really entertaining crushing slightly rotting apples and incorporating them into the soil but I don’t recommend you smelling it, it wasn’t the nicest.
After analyzing the entire experiment I concluded that earthworms enjoy living in dark, cool, wet soils that are infused with lots of nutrients. This most likely has to do with the fact that they are relatively small creatures that can dry up quickly and are thus sensitive to the light. They are also detritivores, meaning they enjoying the food you drop onto the soil.
By now I’m sure you all are wondering why I even care about the habitat preference of these worms but it is a BIG deal. Global warming has been a continuous problem over the past few decades. With increasing earth temperatures and decreased moisture the ideal habitats for these worms are potentially decreasing. On the other hand, increased temperatures may also increase the amount of decomposition and therefore provide more food for earthworms to eat and grow. Both these effects of climate change will affect earthworms in different ways. My experiment is only one step into determining the fate of these wiggly invertebrates. It would be great to see other long term experiments conducted to determine if the abundance of these earthworms increase or decrease in number due to the rising temperature by global warming. Knowing these facts will help determine the fate of agricultural production as a food source.
To see how Earthworms make burrows and help loosen the soil for increased oxygen, water and nutrient penetration please see the link below: