Journal article

Impact of flood deposits on earthworm communities in alder forests from a subalpine floodplain (Kandersteg, Switzerland)

In many ecosystems, bioindication is a tool to estimate biodiversity and quality of environment. In soils,invertebrates are generally suitable bioindicators, especially earthworms. In floodplains, young alluvial soils are exposed to sedimentation and erosion, and little is known about soil bioindication. Moreover,a reference state is now needed to evaluate river restoration projects. The aim of our study was thus tom establish an “undisturbed” floodplain reference at the subalpine level based on earthworm communities and to test if they are indicators of fluvial dynamics. Seven plots were chosen along a stretch of the Kander River (BE, Switzerland). At each plot, a soil profile was described (carbonated Fluvisols) and topsoil was analysed. Earthworms were extracted in each plot using standard mustard extraction(3 x 1 m2) and “hand sorting” method (20 x 20 x 20 cm). Eight species were identified, and Lumbricus meliboeus was found for the first time in a carbonated environment. The absence of anecics was considered, at the subalpine level, as a bioindication of the fluvial dynamics (erosion and sedimentation processes). Biomass of epigeics was positively correlated to topsoil texture and organic matter quality,and thus epigeics, sensitive to variations of topsoil composition, are bioindicators of the latest flood event at the subalpine level.

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