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The burrowing and feeding activities of earthworms may have a strong effect on the flux of N2O from agricultural soils. As such, shifts to agricultural management practices that increase the number of earthworms require an understanding of the role of earthworms in N2O dynamics. We conducted a field experiment to examine the effects of addition of anecic earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) on N2O flux in a field previously planted with corn (Zea mays) in southern Rhode Island, USA. Plots were amended with (15NH4)2SO4 and either 0 (CTL) or 48 L. terrestris m-2 (EW). The flux of N2O, 15N2O and 15N2 was measured over 28 days between October and November 2008. The EW treatment had a significantly higher flux of N2O and 15N2O 1 - 3 days after 15NH4 addition. No treatment effects were observed on 15N2 flux. The addition of earthworms significantly increased (Day 1) and decreased (Day 12) the mole fraction of N2O relative to the CTL. Our results suggest that anecic earthworm additions can increase N2O flux from inorganic fertilizer N amendments, but the effects appear to short-lived.

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