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Data from: Land management modulates the environmental controls on global earthworm communities

Cite this dataset

Johnston, Alice S. A. (2019). Data from: Land management modulates the environmental controls on global earthworm communities [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim: Soils and their biological communities face increasing pressure from multiple global drivers, including land management and climate change. In soils, earthworms play key roles in ecosystem functioning, but the environmental controls on their global communities are not fully understood. Here, an earthworm dataset was compiled to investigate the effects of environmental controls and land management on global earthworm communities. Location: 40 ° S – 65 ° N. Time period: 1962 to 2016. Major taxa studied: Earthworms Methods: A dataset of 899 earthworm community observations, together with environmental variables, was compiled across 169 globally distributed sites. Sites included natural forests and grasslands or managed arable, pasture or plantation ecosystems. Total, anecic, endogeic and epigeic abundances were compared in natural and managed ecosystems to quantify the effects of land management across climates. A hierarchical model was used to test interactions between earthworm communities with environmental controls and management across eighteen ecosystem types. Results: Land management prompted little change in total earthworm abundance at the global scale, but reduced species richness and shifted community composition. Endogeic earthworms were more abundant in managed ecosystems, while anecic and epigeic earthworms show variable responses across ecosystem types. Global relationships between total earthworm species richness and abundance were explained by climate, soil pH and land management. Main conclusions: Land management modulates the effects of environmental controls on global earthworm communities, through direct disturbance and indirect changes in edaphic conditions.

Usage notes


40 ° S - 65 ° N