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Earthworms are supposed to play an important role in the dynamics of the soil seed bank, however, experimental evidence and quantitative data are scarce To evaluate the impact of the earthworm species Lumbricus terrains L on the vertical transport of seeds in the soil, laboratory experiments have been earned out Moreover, the worm casts produced and their seed content have been quantified in two chalk grassland sites during one year

The experiment on seed transport has been earned out in cylinders with controlled numbers of worms and seeds at different depths in stenlized soil Seeds used in this experiment proved to be eaten by the earthworms in preceding palatability tests A significant translocation of the seeds in the cylinders with earthworms was recorded after an eight-week period In spring earthworm activity was mainly found m the upper soil layers in the cylinders, whereas in summer the activity was spread over a larger vertical distance The amount of worm casts collected on permanently marked plots in two different chalk grasslands was very high a minimal quantity of c 750 g nr2 of worm casts were produced yearly The number of germinative seeds brought to the soil surface by worm casts was at least 60-100 nr2 each year This means that earthworm activity has a substantial impact on the soil seed bank dynamics and hence on the possibility of plant recruitment in this species-nch ecosystem