Earthworm avoidance test for soil assessments. An alternative for acute and reproduction tests
For ecotoxicological assessments of contaminated or remediated soils pointing to the habitat function of soils for biocenoses, standardized tests with earthworms (acute test, reproduction test) are available among others. Tests used for routine applications should be sensitive and indicate impacts on test organisms after short test periods. The usually applied earthworm tests do not satisfactorily fulfil these criteria. Therefore, in the present work, a behavioural test with earthworms (test criterion: avoidance) was investigated in detail using uncontaminated, artificially contaminated and originally contaminated soils. It was demonstrated that the avoidance behaviour is primarily determined by pollutants, and not by chemical-physical soil properties. The sensitivity of the presented test reaches the sensitivity of established tests. For waste sites, a considerably higher sensitivity was determined. An avoidance behaviour of at least 80 per cent of the worms leaving the soil to be assessed is proposed as a criterion for toxicity.