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Evaluating soil degradation based on earthworm community characteristics: A case study on loess soils
  • Yanpei Li,
  • Jiao Wang,
  • Mingan Shao
Yanpei Li
Institute of Soil and Water Conservation Chinese Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Water Resources
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Jiao Wang
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Mingan Shao
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Abstract

Soil degradation restricts the development of agriculture and the degree of soil degradation is related to land use type. Quick and efficient evaluation of the degree of soil degradation is needed for the timeous implementation of remedial measures to ensure soil sustainability. Earthworm community characteristics are closely related to soil management practices and soil quality and could be used for evaluation purposes. In this Loess Plateau study, the degree of soil degradation under nine different land use types (natural and planted woodland, shrubbery, and grassland, plus cropland, orchard, and abandoned land) was related to the earthworm community characteristics (density, biomass, and the Shannon-Wiener, Species richness, and Pielou’s evenness indices) using a soil degradation index calculated from soil physicochemical properties determined for each land use type. The earthworm community characteristics associated with a low degree of degradation were significantly higher than those associated with a high degradation degree. Compared to the artificially managed land use types, earthworms in the natural ones showed higher biomass, density, and diversity. The earthworm density, biomass, and Shannon-Weiner index were significantly correlated with soil organic matter and total nitrogen content. These findings indicate that earthworm community characteristics can comprehensively characterise the physicochemical properties and biological characteristics of soils under different land use types. Linear correlations showed a significant relationship between the soil degradation index and the earthworm community characteristics, indicating that the latter could be used effectively to evaluate and represent the degree of degradation of soils on the Loess Plateau over a certain degradation range.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

11 Dec 2020Submitted to Land Degradation & Development
12 Dec 2020Submission Checks Completed
12 Dec 2020Assigned to Editor
16 Dec 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
05 Jan 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
05 Jan 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Major
01 Feb 20211st Revision Received
01 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
01 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
18 Feb 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Feb 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
23 Feb 20212nd Revision Received
24 Feb 2021Submission Checks Completed
24 Feb 2021Assigned to Editor
28 Feb 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
28 Feb 2021Editorial Decision: Accept