Dr Ravi Gooneratne, Lincoln University, describes why earthworms are the ideal research tool for measuring pollutants. Being in the soil, earthworms are often exposed to harmful chemicals, and they are found throughout the world. They also have a relatively well developed nervous system, and the electrical messages are easily picked up through their thin skin.
DR RAVI GOONERATNE
The reason for using earthworms are they’re easy to get – they’re found in most soils in most countries – and the fact that, if you look at the earthworm, they have got a fairly well developed nervous system for a small organism like that. And the body wall is thin so we can pick up any electrical changes inside the body quite easily from outside. The other reason is earthworms are exposed to environmental pollutants on a regular basis.