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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of cadmium, copper, lead and zinc on growth, reproduction and survival of the earthworm Eisenia fetida (Savigny): Assessing the environmental impact of point-source metal contamination in terrestrial ecosystems.

The earthworm Eisenia fetida (Annelida: Oligochaeta) was exposed to a geometric series of concentrations of cadmium, copper, lead and zinc in artificial soil using the OECD recommended protocol. Mortality, growth and cocoon production were measured over 56 days to determine LC50 and EC50 values. No observed effect concentrations (NOECs) were also estimated. Furthermore, the percentage of viable cocoons and number of juveniles emerging per cocoon was recorded. Cocoon production was more sensitive than mortality for all the metals, particularly cadmium and copper for which NOEC reproduction values were an order of magnitude lower than those for NOEC mortality. However, there was no significant effect of metals on the viability of cocoons. The weights of earthworms declined in all treatments (including the controls) during the experiment. This was probably due to the lack of suitable food in the OECD standard soil medium used. It was concluded that future experiments should include animal manure in the test medium. The LC50, EC50 and NOEC values determined in this study were compared with concentrations of metals in soils in the vicinity of a smelting works at Avonmouth, southwest England. The 14-day LC50 for zinc in Eisenia fetida was exceeded in soils covering an area of 75 km2 around the works, compared to 4.2 km2 for copper and 4.7 km2 for lead. Soil values for cadmium did not exceed the LC50 value anywhere in the region. Similar estimates of relative effects on reproduction confirmed that zinc is most likely to be responsible for the absence of earthworms from sites close to the Avonmouth works. However, the OECD standard test overestimated the potential effects of metals on populations, since earthworms can be found as close as 1 km from the smelting works. The discrepancy between test and field observations was probably due to the greater availability of the metals in the artificial soil.[1]


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