Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
|Document Type: ||Thesis or dissertation|
|Title: ||The ecology and control of earthworms on golf courses|
|Authors: ||Bartlett, Mark D.|
|Supervisors: ||Ritz, K.|
|Issue Date: ||Dec-2006|
|Abstract: ||Earthworm casts on golf courses affect the playability of the turf and can potentially
damage mowing equipment. Traditionally this problem has been limited using chemical
controls. It is estimated that 0.6% of the total UK land surface is occupied by golf
courses, therefore, the land management strategies which green keepers adopt with
respect to the application of chemicals has a major environmental impact. The aim of
this thesis was to investigate the ecology and potential control of earthworm casting in
golf turf in environmentally sustainable ways.
A quadrat survey of earthworm casts was conducted over two years at five golf courses
in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, UK. Using generalized linear models and
forward multiple stepwise regression, an internally validated predictive model of
earthworm casting activity was constructed. Annual activity on surfaces was predicted
using five physicochemical parameters of which C: N and total inorganic nitrogen were
the most important. Environmental parameters were also used to predict monthly
earthworm activity, with evapotranspiration and rainfall representing the most
significant variation. '
Mustard extraction surveys were used to investigate species diversity and community
structure of earthworms. Four dominant species were identified (Aporrectodea rosea,
Lunibricus rubellus, Aporrectodea longa and Lumbricus terrestris). It is likely that A.
longa and L. terrestris, the two must abundant anecic forms, cause the greatest
problems to green keepers as these are the largest of the four earthworm species.
The microbial community of soil represents the earthworm's primary food source. An
analysis of the microbial community size (using chloroform-extraction) and community
structure (using phospholipid fatty acid [PLFA] analysis) showed that different surfaces
found on golf courses supported significantly distinct and consistent microbial
communities. Differences in population size and structure were evident at different
depths through all golf course soil profiles investigated. Individual surface types were
comparable, irrespective of geographical location. Therefore different surfaces and
depths through the soil profile on golf courses represent different earthworm habitats.
An investigation of the effects of different construction techniques and materials used in
the golf industry on the rate of earthworm cast formation was made. This showed no
effect of construction on the vertical distribution of earthworms, but the rate of casting
increased on the sand dominated surfaces. It is proposed that this is due to the lower
calorific value that this soil represents to the earthworms. This knowledge was applied
in an earthworm cast mitigation experiment, reducing casting rates by stimulating the
size of the microbial community with glucose solution. Control through physical
exclusion of earthworms to the surface using a buried mesh was also trialled and
significantly reduced earthworm casts, however no causal mechanism could be
This study has advanced the understanding of earthworm ecology on golf courses,
deriving mechanistic understandings of this system as a whole. This will lead to a more environmentally sustainable approach to the control of earthworms on golf courses.|
|Appears in Collections:||PhD, EngD and MSc by research theses (School of Applied Sciences)|
Items in CERES are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.