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Home ยป #EarthWormDay let us celebrate these Soil Heroes

#EarthWormDay let us celebrate these Soil Heroes

#EarthWormDay let us celebrate these Soil Heroes

World Earthworm Day is celebrated on October 21 to honor these underrated animals. The date commemorates the month in which Charles Darwin, the father of earthworm ecology, published his book ‘The Formation of Plant Mold Through the Action of Worms’.

In 2016, the Earthworm Society of Britain (ESB) named 21 October World Earthworm Day to provide the world with an opportunity to celebrate these underappreciated and ecologically vital animals.

An October date was chosen to honor the father of earthworm ecology, Charles Darwin, as this is the month his book ‘The Formation of Plant Mold Through the Actions of Worms’ was published.

Since the first World Earthworm Day on Friday 21st October 2016, we repeat our new tradition on the same day every year and celebrate why #EarthwormsAreImportant with a growing number of supporters and partners. The worms continued to take center stage on October 21 every year since.

World Earthworm Day

Earthworms are amazing little creatures found in the soil and eat a wide variety of organic matter. Today, they are used in vermicompost baths to reduce the environmental impact of our household waste.

Earthworms are one of the main pests that harm the work of farmers. They live underground, especially at the base of plant stems, as well as under rocks and leaf litter. They are the young of some groups of insects, such as moths and beetles. Unlike earthworms, earthworms have legs and broader bodies.

  • Dendrobaena veneta (the ‘European nightcrawler’), a common composting species of earthworm.
  • Earthworms move through the soil and climb surfaces by gripping them with the rows of backwards-facing setae which run the length of their bodies. These are the setae of the ‘lob worm’ (Lumbricus terrestris)
  • Earthworms have little ‘lips’, called ‘prostomiums’ which they use to grasp food. The shape of the prostomium is a key feature used to identify earthworms to species (species featured here: Aporrectodea longa)
  • This is Aporrectodea longa, a common deep-burrowing earthworm species found in agricultural and forest soils in Europe.
  • Here’s Aporrectodea rosea (the ‘rosy-tipped’ earthworm), a common shallow-burrowing earthworm species found in agricultural and natural grassland soils.

Earthworms improve the structure of the soil

Earthwarm improves the water properties and the structure of the soil. By feeding on organic matter, they degrade it and help its decomposition by microorganisms, which makes the nutrients more assimilable by plants.

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These tend to grow better in those soils where the earthworm community is healthy and balanced, which means that the harvests are also better where there are earthworms.

We recently published an article on the global distribution of earthworms in the journal Science.

The study has been carried out by 140 researchers from around the world using data from almost 7,000 locations, including environmental data, from 57 different countries on all continents except Antarctica.

Never before has it been possible to collect and analyze such a large amount of data on these animals. It is, therefore, the largest global study on the distribution of earthworms. The results obtained are very striking.

Firstly, the study shows that earthworms have a completely opposite distribution pattern to that of animals that live above ground. Its biodiversity and abundance is greater in temperate zones than in tropical zones.

Climate change threatens earthworms

The second discovery made is that the distribution of earthworms at a global level is determined by climatic factors such as rainfall and temperature. This makes the authors concerned about the effect that climate change could have on the populations of these animals.

The consequences on earthworms are unpredictable, since climate change is a phenomenon that manifests itself on a local scale and, therefore, its effect will be different in each place.

In some places, such as permanently frozen steppe soils, some earthworm species might even be favored.

However, most populations could be drastically affected, which could lead to their disappearance in some places or to the replacement of some communities by others less adapted.

These changes would affect all the ecosystem services that earthworms provide, in the shade, to humans.

We want to draw readers’ attention to these little animals that are so unknown and yet so important to humanity. The soil is still a large black box to study whose biodiversity and importance are crucial in ecosystems.

We hope that people are more aware of its importance and have a different vision of this great little world that lives under our feet.

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