Impact of land use and geological conditions on selected physical soil properties in relation to the earthworm abundance and biomass along an altitudinal gradient in Slovakia

Jozef Varga 1 , Radoslava Kanianska 1  and Ján Spišiak 1
  • 1 Matej Bel University Banská Bystrica, Faculty of Natural Sciences, 974 01, Banská Bystrica, Slovakia


The aim of the study was to analyse the impact of land use and altitudinal gradient including geological conditions on selected soil physical properties with subsequent effect on earthworms as important soil organisms. The research was conducted at three study sites (Očová – OC, Tajov – TA, Liptovská Teplička – LT) situated in the different climatic and natural conditions of Slovakia each with 3 plots differing in land use (arable land - AL, permanent grasslands – PG, forest land – FL). During 2014 over two periods, we measured soil penetration resistance (PR) with total depth of the measurement (DP) and soil moisture (SM). Earthworms were hand sorted counted and weighed. We found out high variability of measured parameters conditioned by time, space (altitudinal gradient) and land use. PR values of all measurements ranged from 0.19 to 5.00 MPa, DP values from 0.02 to 0.80 m and soil moisture from 2 to 50%. Paired samples test confirmed differences between different land use types mainly between AL and FL plots. There were confirmed significant differences between three ecological gradients in all observed properties with one exception. Correlations among observed variables under different altitudinal gradients and land use types were found. The earthworm density and biomass was significantly higher in permanent grasslands compared to forest and arable land. In arable land, the earthworm density and biomass negatively correlated with the penetration resistance and positively with the depth of the total measurements. In permanent grasslands earthworm biomass positively correlated with soil moisture.

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