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Soil temperature; Earthworms; Soil freezing; Soil fertility


Soil fauna play important roles in many soil processes and conditions which relate to agricultural systems. Earthworms are credited with enhancing soil fertility and soil physical properties by their feeding and burrowing activities. Most research on earthworms has focused on the warmer seasons of the year and relatively little is known about earthworm activity and survival during the portion of the year with frozen soils. Earthworms may survive winter by acclimatization, aestivation, or by burrowing to deeper depths where the soil is not frozen. More research is needed on the fate of earthworms in frozen soils. Suggested research areas include: 1) studies designed to determine the effects of freezing temperatures on the survival and behavior of earthworms, 2) studies to determine the effect of freezing and freeze-thaw cycles on the structure and stability of earthworm burrows, and 3) studies to determine the effect of freezing and thawing on the physical integrity of the burrow linings and cast materials.

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