What is the name of a group of earthworms

The habitat of the earthworm

Earthworms are articulated worms that live in the ground. With regard to the colonization of different soil layers, earthworms differ in three types. The epigeic species live near the surface of the earth, whereas theendogean and anectic species can be found in the deeper soil layers.

In this article you can find out exactly how the three species differ and which representatives of earthworms belong to which group

The epigeic species of earthworms

The epigeic species live in the topsoil, which is enriched with organic material and are also referred to as litter dwellers. These types can be recognized by their dark pigmentation, which serves as UV protection. In addition, the litter dwellers are smaller and more agile than the deeper species.

In the loose topsoil they create only small, predominantly horizontal tunnels. They dig deeper only during the rest periods in summer and winter in order to survive about 30 to 50 centimeters below the surface of the earth in the resting stage. The Epigaean species come to the surface of the soil to eat. Here they are well camouflaged due to their dark color.

These worms get their nutrition mainly from animal excrement, dead plant material as well as bacteria and fungi. A well-known representative of this species is the compost worm. The compost worm can process half of its body weight in organic material every day into so-called worm humus.

The endogean species live deep in the ground

They live deeper in the ground endogean species, also called mineral soil dwellers. In contrast to the Epigeic species, these worms are not pigmented. They don't need UV protection or camouflage as they rarely leave the ground. Here they feed on dead root parts and organic substances.

These earthworms live in horizontal, highly branched duct systems in the mineral soil. The high activity of digging contributes to the fine mixing of the mineral soil with organic matter.

Together with the Epigeic species, the mineral soil dwellers ensure that the soil quality is improved. The loosening of the soil, the improvement of the water holding capacity and the infiltration of the topsoil are among their services. In addition, the duct systems improve the oxygen supply in the soil and create space for roots, which promotes plant growth.

The endogean species include the small and large field worms

Anectic species - the vertical auger among earthworms

The anectic species are also known under the names deep diggers or vertical drills. They dig vertical systems of corridors, which are up to three meters below the surface of the earth. Digging is done by a combination of pushing away and eating away at the earth. The duct systems are lined with mucus and excrement and are preserved for a very long time, which promotes the permeability of the soil to water and air.

The deep graves regularly move to the surface of the ground. They leave the ground to feed or to mate. A red-pigmented back side provides the necessary UV protection. Some of these species are only half pigmented as they only leave the ground with the front part of the body.

With a body length of up to 45 centimeters, the deep graves are the largest type of earthworm. This group includes the tauworms and the large meadow worm. They feed on leaves and litter, which they pull underground, eat and digest. The feces are then excreted on the surface of the soil.

All three types are important for soil quality

All three types of earthworms make an important contribution to maintaining or improving the soil quality. Its digging behavior improves ventilation and regulates the water balance of the soil. In addition, its feeding behavior also enriches deeper soil layers with microorganisms, nutrients and valuable organic material.