Exposures of Lumbricus rubellus to a series of arsenic concentrations in soil were used to assess life-stage (juvenile, adult) and genotype specific sensitivities, to calculate population growth rate (λ) and to assess patterns of As accumulation. Significant mortality was seen in juveniles at 125 mg/kg As, while growth and maturation was affected from 36 mg/kg and above.
In adults, cocoon production at the highest concentration (125 mg/kg) was significantly reduced. Phylogenetic analysis was performed by comparison of mitochondrial sequences to establish genotypic variation among juveniles. Three clades with more than 7.5% divergent were described, with 70% of earthworms belonging to a single clade. Date of and mass at maturation was significantly different between clades, but clades were not differentially As sensitive. Parameter λ was reduced at 36 mg/kg As and was negative at 125 mg/kg As, suggesting impacts and population stability and potential extinction at environmentally relevant concentrations.
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