Resistance to copper toxicity in populations of the earthworms Lumbricus rubellus and Dendrodrilus rubidus from contaminated waste mines

C. J. Langdon, T. G. Piearce, Andrew Alexander Meharg, K. T. Semple

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Two arsenic and heavy metal-contaminated mine spoil sites, at Carrock Fell, Cumbria, United Kingdom, and Devon Great Consols Mine, Devon, United Kingdom, have been found to support populations of the earthworms Lumbricus rubellus Hoffmeister and Dendrodrilus rubidus (Savigny). Lumbricus rubellus and D. rubidus collected from the Devon site and an uncontaminated site were kept for 28 d in uncontaminated soil and in soil containing 750 mg/kg CuCl2, the state of the specimens being recorded using a semiquantitative assessment of earthworm health (condition index). The condition index remained high for all specimens except those of L. rubellus and D. rubidus from uncontaminated sites. which displayed 100% mortality, Bioavailability of Cu in the soils from one uncontaminated and two contaminated sites and in the uncontaminated soil treated with CuCl2 was determined using sequential extraction. Soils from Devon Great Consols had the greatest availability of Cu. Carrock Fell the lowest. Total tissue Cu for L. rubellus and D. rubidus from the contaminated sites did not change significantly for each species during the experiment. Total tissue concentrations of Cu for L. rubellus and D. rubidus from uncontaminated sites increased significantly during the first 7 d, after which mortality was 90%, making it impossible to continue the analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2336-2341
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Cu sensitivity
  • earthworms
  • soil contamination
  • heavy metals
  • bioavailability
  • ZINC
  • LEAD

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