Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris)

scientific name: Lumbricus terrestris
Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris)
Photo: UPB-Projektgruppe Trier

As an organism living at ground level, it is a major driver of the decomposition of organic material (e.g. plant litter).

Earthworms as organisms living in the soil, are involved in various ways in the complex processes of soil formation, and as saprophytes, they occupy the central position in decomposing organic material and the energy combined with (destruction).

Their intensive involvement in the nutrient cycles highly exposes the earthworms towards all substances existing in an ecosystem. As a consequence, if toxic substances are present, a large hazard potential exists for the food chains based on earthworms.

They also play a central role in the ecosystem food chain and energy cycle, causing an outstanding exposure to hazardous substances.

Guideline for Sampling and Sample Processing Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris, Aporrectodea longa)

Target organs/Matrices

Whole body without faeces

Sampling area

Saarländischer Verdichtungsraum Important, old-industrialised conurbation in Germany.
Verdichtungsraum Halle-Leipzig Region in the chemical triangle of Central Germany
Solling Second highest and largest low mountain range in Northern Germany
Oberbayerisches Tertiärhügelland The Upper Bavarian Tertiary Uplands are a part of the Southern German Molasse Basin


Metals Eighty percent of all elements on earth are metals
Nonmetals Only eighteen elements in the periodic table
Chlorohydrocarbons Group of organic compounds with at least one covalently bonded chlorine atom
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Group of organic compounds with at least three condensed six-membered rings
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds Organic compounds which are fully (per-) or partially (poly-) fluorinated
Stable Isotopes Atoms of one element with different weights
Flame Retardants Flame retardants reduce the flammability of objects
Supplementary parameters Additional information for the interpretation of contamination data

Sampling period

1993 - 2019

Extended information

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