This study aims to understand the impacts of common anthropogenic pollutants on earthworms (Eisenia fetida) and soil health. Earthworms were exposed to high microplastics and low microplastics, high and low salinity, imidacloprid pesticide, and combinations of salinity and pesticide. After 28 days, earthworms reared in different concentrations of microplastics showed significant reduction in biomass. The individual escape assay demonstrated that microplastics significantly reduced the earthworms’ ability to escape the induced stressor. We ran a pilot study for avoidance with the varying treatments and found that earthworms preferred the microplastics and high salt and pesticide environments. We found no effects on soil pH but did observe significant differences in conductivity. Earthworms are essential for soil ecosystems with functions of burrowing and decomposition, therefore further research should be conducted to explore effects of anthropogenic pollutants on their ecology.
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Williams, Meisi; Calder, Anthony; Brun, Anna; Code, Gavin; Mahadeo, Vashti Devi B.; and Zhu, Weixing, "Microplastics Reduce Earthworm (Eisenia fetida) Biomass and Impact Behavior" (2023). Research Days Posters 2023. 102.