Importance of large, deep-burrowing and anecic earthworms in forested and cultivated areas (vineyards) of northeastern Italy

Federico Gavinelli, Tommaso Barcaro, C. Csuzdi, Robert J. Blakemore, Daniel Fernandez Marchan, Irene De Sosa, Luca Dorigo, Francesca Lazzarini, Giulio Nicolussi, Angelo Leandro Dreon, Vladimiro Toniello, Alberto Pamio, Andrea Squartini, Giuseppe Concheri, Enzo Moretto, Maurizio Guido Paoletti

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Through their activities earthworms and especially the long, deep-burrowing and anecic species, may modify the chemical-physical, biological and mechanical properties of the soil. They build mull soils. Their presence has a key role in soil ecology relating to its quality in agricultural ecosystems and especially in orchards, on vineyards and in woodlands. For comparison, this study shows the distribution of earthworm species on 29 vineyards and 32 deciduous forests in northeastern and central Italy and in parts of Croatia and Slovenia. The study located 3215 specimens: 1193 from woodlands and 2022 from cultivated areas collected between 2010 and 2017. Twelve anecic and 19 endogeic/epigeic species were identified. Rarely more than two or three anecic species live together. Some species of Octodrilus Omodeo, 1956 and some other species from the collecting sites were subject to barcoding analysis. The phylogenetic tree based on COI is rather consistent with current taxonomy. Of the few genera studied, the key genus Octodrilus is most abundant with Oc. complanatus having wide circum-mediterranean range and another three endemic species having restricted ranges: Oc. mimus, Oc. tergestinus and Oc. istrianus. They cover the prime wine producing area in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, including the Collio with a wine of the same name. Another couple of species Octodrilus nov. sp. and Eophila crodabepis are distributed throughout the classical prosecco wine production area. Although natural deciduous forests are anecic earthworm's selective habitat, in certain circumstances however, rural areas can receive anecic recruits from nearby forests or hedgerows. Reducing tillage, trampling, and use of pesticides along with introduction of mulching are a means to make the rural environment and specially vineyards more attractive to these anecic deep-burrowing and beneficial species.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017



  • Agricultural Habitat
  • Anecic species
  • Croatia
  • Deep-burrowing species
  • Earthworms
  • Northeastern Italy
  • Slovenia
  • Taxonomy
  • Vineyards
  • Woodlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Soil Science

Cite this

Gavinelli, F., Barcaro, T., Csuzdi, C., Blakemore, R. J., Marchan, D. F., De Sosa, I., Dorigo, L., Lazzarini, F., Nicolussi, G., Dreon, A. L., Toniello, V., Pamio, A., Squartini, A., Concheri, G., Moretto, E., & Paoletti, M. G. (Accepted/In press). Importance of large, deep-burrowing and anecic earthworms in forested and cultivated areas (vineyards) of northeastern Italy. Applied Soil Ecology.