Sunday, December 28, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Earthworms contribute to climate change, study finds

Petr Kratochvil/Courtesy photo.

By
From page A5 | February 05, 2013 |

Earthworms are long revered for their beneficial role in soil fertility, but with the good comes the bad: They also increase greenhouse gas emissions from soils, according to a study published Monday in Nature Climate Change by a research team that includes a UC Davis soil scientist.

The team found that earthworms do not, as was suspected, stimulate carbon sequestration in the soil, which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, they actually increase greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of ways.

“There was a hypothesis that earthworms were having a positive effect on the greenhouse balance, but they don’t,” said co-author Johan Six, a plant sciences professor at UCD during the study who is now a professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. “I would never say you have to take out the earthworms because of greenhouse gases. It’s just that you cannot give them credit for reducing greenhouse gases.”

The scientific team was led by Jan Willen van Groenigen of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and, along with UCD, included colleagues from Trinity College Dublin, and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali, Colombia.

The team gathered all relevant published research to date: 57 different experiments.

The research team then employed a statistical technique called meta-analysis to discern overall patterns in the data.

They found that the presence of earthworms increased nitrous oxide emissions from soil by 42 percent and carbon dioxide emissions from soil by 33 percent. But they found no indications that earthworms affect soil organic carbon stocks — the carbon stored within the soil.

According to the researchers, earthworms likely increase greenhouse gas emissions several ways: They mix organic plant residues in the soil, which may increase decomposition and carbon dioxide emissions; the earthworm gut acts as a microbial incubator, boosting the activity of nitrous oxide-producing microbes; and the earthworms, by burrowing through the soil, make it easier for greenhouse gases in the soil to escape into the atmosphere.

Small changes in soil greenhouse gas dynamics can have important repercussions for global warming, the researchers said. But lead author Ingrid Lubbers from Wageningen University said it is not yet clear to what extent the effects of earthworms on plant growth may negate earthworm-induced increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our literature search also pointed out a large gap in the published studies,” Lubbers said. “We need more experiments that include growing plants, as well as more long-term studies and more field studies before we can decide to what extent global worming leads to global warming.”

— UC Davis News Service

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Yolo makes hydrogen connection

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    NYC officer mourned at funeral as tensions linger

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    N. Korea uses racial slur against Obama over hack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    AirAsia plane with 162 aboard missing in Indonesia

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Sacramento man convicted for 2011 bar shooting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Drugs, stolen car lead to women’s arrests

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Supplies collected for victims of abuse

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sweet success: Cancer Center helps young patient celebrate end of treatment

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Reserve tickets soon for Chamber’s Installation Gala

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Holiday hours continue at The Enterprise

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Covell Gardens hosts New Year’s Eve dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    UC Davis debate team wins national championship

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Portuguese breakfast set for Jan. 25

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Nominate teens for Golden Heart awards

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    USA Weekend calls it quits

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    At the Pond: It all started with kayaking on Putah Creek

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Find the first cabbage white butterfly, and win a pitcher

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Does pre-eclampsia raise autism risk?

    By Phyllis Brown | From Page: A6

     
    Long will talk about value of hedgerows for adjacent farms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    It’s a wonderful life — and a wonderful state

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    College sees benefits in loan guarantees

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

     
    Tickets for New Year’s Eve party going fast

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

    .

    Forum

     
    It was a busy, black-eye year for disease control

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    This cat is on life No. 7

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B4

     
    Say thanks to the caregivers

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Bombing is not the answer

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Just Us in Davis: Despair and hope for the new year

    By Jonathan London | From Page: A10

     
    Commission’s list needs vetting

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Rifkin’s statement is offensive

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Cuba policy changes highlight a momentous opportunity

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    Writer’s arguments fall flat

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Sports

    Sacramento survives Knicks in OT

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Kings cruise past Sharks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Lady Blue Devils top Tigers to reach Ram Jam title game

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DHS boys get good film in tournament loss

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Sports briefs: Republic FC to host camp series

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    College bowl roundup: Sun Bowl goes to the Sun Devils

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Rob White: Davis tech community is growing

    By Rob White | From Page: A9

     
    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

    First Northern adds Peyret to agribusiness loan team

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Kaiser’s trauma center in Vacaville earns verification

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Obituaries

    Ruth Allen Barr

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Charles ‘Bud’ Meyer

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, December 28, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8