Soil BON Earthworm - A global initiative on earthworm distribution, traits, and spatiotemporal diversity patterns


  • Pierre Ganault Université de Rouen Normandie; German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig; Leipzig University
  • Christian Ristok German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig; Leipzig University
  • Helen R. Phillips Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW); Saint Mary’s University; University of Helsinki
  • Mickael Hedde Eco&Sols
  • Yvan Capowiez University of Avignon
  • Nicolas Bottinelli Sorbonne Université; Soils and Fertilizers Research Institute (SFRI)
  • Thibaud Decaëns Université de Montpellier
  • Daniel Marchan Université de Montpellier; Universidad Complutense de Madrid
  • Sylvain Gerard Eco&Sols; Université de Montpellier
  • Jérôme Mathieu Sorbonne Université
  • Anton Potapov Senckenberg Museum for Natural History Görlitz; German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig; University of Göttingen
  • Erin K Cameron Saint Mary’s University
  • George Brown Embrapa Forestry
  • Marie Bartz Centre for Organic and Regenerative Agriculture
  • Romy Zeiss Université de Rouen Normandie; Leipzig University
  • Yacouba Zi Sorbonne Université
  • Maria Tsiafouli Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • David J Russell Senckenberg Museum for Natural History Görlitz
  • Carlos Guerra Leipzig University; Universidade de Coimbra
  • Nico Eisenhauer German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig; Leipzig University



community ecology, ecosystem functioning, functional traits, citizen science, temporal dynamics


Recent research on earthworms has shed light on their global distribution, with high alpha richness in temperate zones and high beta diversity in tropical areas. Climate and agricultural practices, notably plowing and conservation methods, were shown to strongly influence earthworm communities. However, data gaps persist in regions like North Australia, Asia, Russia, and Africa, limiting our understanding of earthworm distribution and their responses to global changes. Understanding changes within earthworm communities is crucial given their profound influence on ecosystem functions such as soil structure, nutrient dynamics, and plant growth. Classifying earthworms into functional groups remains complex, prompting the adoption of a trait-based approach for a more comprehensive classification, but there is no representative global data on earthworm traits. To address these knowledge gaps, the Soil BON Earthworm initiative aims at creating a global community of earthworm experts, standardizing sampling methods and databases, collecting time series data on earthworm communities, and modeling future earthworm distributions under different climate scenarios. The initiative aims to address key questions, such as the dynamic of earthworm communities over time and their response to environmental factors and anthropogenic influences, their impact on ecosystem functioning, and the redefinition of functional groups based on traits. The consortium invites researchers worldwide to contribute to this endeavor and encourages the resampling of study sites, to expand currently limited time series datasets. To facilitate data collection, standardized protocols and data templates are proposed, ensuring data quality and interoperability. Furthermore, the initiative intends to make use of citizen science in expanding observations and improving taxonomic coverage, highlighting platforms like iNaturalist for community engagement. Soil BON Earthworm seeks to unite global expertise and foster collaborative research to address critical gaps in understanding earthworm ecology and its implications for ecosystems at a global scale.


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Soil BON Earthworm - A global initiative on earthworm distribution, traits, and spatiotemporal diversity patterns. (2024). Soil Organisms, 96(1).