Non-native species change the tune of tundra soils: Novel access to soundscapes of the Arctic earthworm invasion

Sara C. Keen, Adrian A. Wackett, Jane K. Willenbring, Kyungsoo Yoo, Hanna Jonsson, Travis Clow, Jonatan Klaminder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, an increasing number of studies have used soundscapes to address diverse ecological questions. Sound represents one of the few sources of information capable of providing in situ insights into processes occurring within opaque soil matrices. To date, the use of soundscapes for soil macrofauna monitoring has been experimentally tested only in controlled laboratory environments. Here we assess the validity of laboratory predictions and explore the use of soil soundscape proxies for monitoring soil macrofauna (i.e., earthworm) activities in an outdoor context. In a common garden experiment in northern Sweden, we constructed outdoor mesocosm plots (N = 36) containing two different Arctic vegetation types (meadow and heath) and introduced earthworms to half of these plots. Earthworms substantially altered the ambient soil soundscape under both vegetation types, as measured by both traditional soundscape indices and frequency band power levels, although their acoustic impacts were expressed differently in heath versus meadow soils. While these findings support the as-of-yet untapped promise of using belowground soundscape analyses to monitor soil ecosystem health, direct acoustic emissions from earthworm activities appear to be an unlikely proxy for tracking worm activities at daily timescales. Instead, earthworms indirectly altered the soil soundscape by ‘re-engineering’ the soil matrix: an effect that was dependent on vegetation type. Our findings suggest that long-term (i.e., seasonal) earthworm activities in natural soil settings can likely be monitored indirectly via their impacts on soundscape measures and acoustic indices. Analyzing soil soundscapes may enable larger-scale monitoring of high-latitude soils and is directly applicable to the specific case of earthworm invasions within Arctic soils, which has recently been identified as a potential threat to the resilience of high-latitude ecosystems. Soil soundscapes could also offer a novel means to monitor soils and soil-plant-faunal interactions in situ across diverse pedogenic, agronomic, and ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number155976
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue numberPt 3
StatePublished - Sep 10 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Peter Shearer for helpful suggestions in developing this project and Kai Sattler for field sampling and laboratory assistance. We also thank the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and SITES for their financial and technical support of this work conducted at the Abisko Scientific Research Station.

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge support to J.K. Willenbring from NSF-EAR-1841619 and to K. Yoo from NSF-EAR-1937514, as well as a research fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation awarded to A.A. Wackett, funding from Kempestiftelserna to J. Klaminder.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Acoustic monitoring
  • Arctic
  • Earthworm invasion
  • Ecosystem disturbance
  • Ecosystem engineer
  • Soil fauna
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Soil structure
  • Soundscapes
  • Oligochaeta
  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Soil
  • Introduced Species
  • Tundra

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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