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Determining the influence of rainfall patterns and carbendazim on the surface activity of the earthworm Lumbricus terrestris

Authors

  • Sian R. Ellis,

    1. Department of Soil Science, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6DW, United Kingdom
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  • Mark E. Hodson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Soil Science, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6DW, United Kingdom
    • Department of Soil Science, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, Berkshire RG6 6DW, United Kingdom.
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  • Phil Wege

    1. Crop Protection Biology & Logistics, Syngenta, Jealott's Hill International Research Centre, Bracknell, Berkshire RG42 6ET, United Kingdom
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Abstract

Carbendazim is highly toxic to earthworms and is used as a standard control substance when running field-based trials of pesticides, but results using carbendazim are highly variable. In the present study, impacts of timing of rainfall events following carbendazim application on earthworms were investigated. Lumbricus terrestris were maintained in soil columns to which carbendazim and then deionized water (a rainfall substitute) were applied. Carbendazim was applied at 4 kg/ha, the rate recommended in pesticide field trials. Three rainfall regimes were investigated: initial and delayed heavy rainfall 24 h and 6 d after carbendazim application, and frequent rainfall every 48 h. Earthworm mortality and movement of carbendazim through the soil was assessed 14 d after carbendazim application. No detectable movement of carbendazim occurred through the soil in any of the treatments or controls. Mortality in the initial heavy and frequent rainfall was significantly higher (approximately 55%) than in the delayed rainfall treatment (approximately 25%). This was due to reduced bioavailability of carbendazim in the latter treatment due to a prolonged period of sorption of carbendazim to soil particles before rainfall events. The impact of carbendazim application on earthworm surface activity was assessed using video cameras. Carbendazim applications significantly reduced surface activity due to avoidance behavior of the earthworms. Surface activity reductions were least in the delayed rainfall treatment due to the reduced bioavailability of the carbendazim. The nature of rainfall events' impacts on the response of earthworms to carbendazim applications, and details of rainfall events preceding and following applications during field trials should be made at a higher level of resolution than is currently practiced according to standard International Organization for Standardization protocols. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010; 29:1821–1827. © 2010 SETAC

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