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Environ Pollut. 2006 Nov;144(2):639-46. Epub 2006 Mar 10.

Bioaccumulation of heavy metals in the earthworms Lumbricus rubellus and Aporrectodea caliginosa in relation to total and available metal concentrations in field soils.

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  • 1Department of Animal Ecology, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The aim of this study was to determine important metal pools for bioaccumulation by the earthworms Lumbricus rubellus and Aporrectodea caliginosa in soils with high binding capacity. Cd, Cu and Zn concentrations in soil, pore water and CaCl(2) extracts of soil, in leaves of the plant species Urtica dioica and in earthworms were determined at 15 field sites constituting a gradient in metal pollution. Variations in the Cu and Cd concentrations in L. rubellus and Cu concentrations in A. caliginosa were best explained by total soil concentrations, while variation in Cd concentration in A. caliginosa was best explained by pore water concentrations. Zn concentrations in L. rubellus and A. caliginosa were not significantly correlated to any determined variable. It is concluded that despite low availability, earthworms in floodplain soils contain elevated concentrations of Cu and Cd, suggesting that uptake takes place not only from the soluble metal concentrations.

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