Project U2 worm

U2 worm

Understanding and using ecosystem services provided by earthworms


Principal investigator:

Cornelia Rumpel (CNRS, IEES)


IEES/IRD (Nicolas Bottinelli, Marie-France Dignac, Pascal Jouquet, Philippe Biron)

Ecosys/INRAE (Patricia Garnier)

IC2MP/Université de Poitiers (Laurent Caner, Arnaud Mazurier, Paul Sadini)

Eco&Sol/IRD (Laetitia Bernard, Eric Blanchard)

LEM/INRAE (Alessandro Florio, Xavier Le Roux, Thomas Pommier, Agnès Richaume)

UMMISCO/IRD (Nicolas Marilleau, Christophe Cambier)

METIS/Sorbonne U (Katell Quenea)

LRI/Madagascar (Tantely Razafimbelo)

SFRI/Vietnam (Tran Minh Tien)

External collaborator

Yvan Capowiez (EMMA/INRAE)


Issifou Amadou (2023…): Mineral properties and physical organisation of earthworm casts

Paul Breugnot (2022-….): Conception et développement d’un modèle multi-agents pour les sciences du sol

Nicolas Puche (2021/2022): Modelling the fate of organic matter during earthworm cast ageing

Guillaume LeMer (2021/2022): Earthworm casts as extended functional traits


Arthur Cousson (PhD 2022-2025): Diversité microbienne et décomposition des matières organiques du sol: focus sur le role des interactions entre espèces.

Hoang Dang (PhD 2021-2024): Linking earthworm biodiversity to soil carbon sequestration

Yacouba Zi (PhD 2021-2024): Functional traits of earthworms determining soil biogeochemical cycling

Lucas Grosjean (M1, 2021): CAMMISOL système multi-agent

Mathilde Ducloiset (DUT, 2021): Evaluation of the quantity and composition of earthworm casts in grassland soils under contrasting management.

Myriam Ngo (L2, 2021): Dynamique des matières organique dans les turricules de vers de terre au cours de leur vieillissement.

Yacouba Zi (M2, 2021): A trait-based approach to study the effect of earthworms (megascolecidae and lumbricidae species) on the stabilization of soil organic carbon


The general objective of the project is to better apprehend and predict the effect of earthworms on biogeochemical cycling and soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics and their potential for ecological engineering in agricultural and horticultural applications.

In general, earthworm species are classified thanks to the pioneering work of Bouché (1977) into three ecological groups (anecic, endogeic and epigeic species). However, there is overlap in group characteristics and recent research shows that to take into account the whole earthworm functional diversity, species traits have to be identified (Bottinelli and Capowiez, 2021).

Fig.1: Species allocation to the triangle of Bouché, regrouping three functional earthworm groups (Bottinelli et al., 2020)

The specific aims of the project are to:

  • Identify earthworms’ functional traits favouring SOM stabilisation and reducing GHG emissions through organo-mineral complex formation and inclusion of organic matter inside aggregates.
  • Investigate the fate of SOC affected by earthworm activity
  • Implement two models simulating the earthworms’ effect on SOM dynamics (a complex 3D model and a simple compartmental model) to identify a general factor for earthworm activity based on functional traits to be implemented in other SOM models
  • Explore use of earthworms based on their traits in two ecological engineering applications
  • Provide recommendations for the use of earthworms for soil improvement in tropical and temperate climates

Fig. 2: Theoretical framework of the project.

Organisation of the project

Fig. 3: Project organisation in workpackages

Research output sur Research Gate

WorkpackgesConceptual framework