Mardin, Inscription 2008 - © Photo : Patricia Cardet












Book of Abstracts




All the world is marking the 200th birthday of Charles Robert Darwin on February 12th, 2009 and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his most important work, ‘On the Origin of Species’. Undoubtedly, Darwin’s most important contribution was to evolutionary theory, but among his 25 books, one was devoted to earthworms. This not very voluminous book entitled “The Formation of Vegetable Mould, through the Actions of Worms, with Observations on Their Habits” and published in 1881 shows his deep understanding of earthworm biology, behaviour and their role for pedogenesis, health of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and for the multiple services they provide to humans. Even, after so many years most of Darwin’s observations and explanations are regarded as correct. For example, in the article by Mitra et al. (2009) “Grunting for worms: seismic vibrations cause Diplocardia earthworms to emerge from the soil” published in Biological Letters, the authors confirmed Darwin’s explanation of the escaping behaviour of earthworms: “It has often been said that if the ground is beaten or otherwise made to tremble, worm believe that they are pursued by a mole and leave their burrow. From one account that I have received, I have no doubt that this is often the case”. Certainly, this book is still a good starting point for naturalists and biologists to acquire a basic knowledge of the biology and ecology of earthworms.

However, the amount of information available about earthworms is growing day after day and new scientific fields are opened (e.g. earthworm phylogeography and pharmacology). A way to speed up the progress in scientific work and to exchange ideas is to encourage cooperation by bringing together scientists working on similar subjects. This is the basic idea behind the organization of the International Oligochaete Taxonomy Meetings (IOTM). So far, three successful meetings took place. The 1st IOTM was organized by Ana G. Moreno in Madrid, Spain, the 2nd IOTM by Victor V. Pop in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and the 3rd IOTM by Tomáš Pavlíček and Patricia Cardet in Platres, Cyprus. As a tradition, the meetings concentrate mainly, but not exclusively, on earthworms and discuss, apart of taxonomy, also different aspects of the oligochaete biodiversity and new methods of their study. The 4th International Oligochaete Taxonomy Meeting, taking place in Diyarbakir, Turkey, from April 20 to April, 2009, will continue in the best tradition of the previous three meetings.

Choosing to host the 4th IOTM at the Dicle University in Diyarbakır has a symbolic meaning. The University campus and the town are situated on the banks of the river Tigris (Dicle), and are thus located in the ancient region of Upper Mesopotamia known to be part of the Fertile Crescent where many of early crop domestications took place. A place where the roots of our civilisation still glimmer, Diyarbakır can serve as a window to the past and recent Oriental culture and folklore, and a very promising venue to discuss the progress in oligochaete research. Since earthworms of the Diyarbakir region are almost unknown, the region is also a place where to make new discoveries in the fields of earthworm taxonomy, faunistic and phylogeography.  

Tomáš Pavlíček
Convenor of the 4th IOTM


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The abstracts are listed in alphabetical order according to the name of their first author.

 Adaptive forms of life forms of Aporrectodea caliginosa (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) … abstract
 Earthworm taxonomic structure of coffee plantations at three soil associations in Puerto Rico … abstract
 Taxonomy of the earthworms in the North-West of Tehran … abstract
 Accumulation of heavy metals by earthworms in boron contaminated area (Kırka-Eskişehir) … abstract
 To develop a design for criteria for high cost effective simplification of fast-paced vermireactors based on epigeic earthworms … abstract
 Saga of Herr Hilgendorf's worms … abstract
 Distribution of Pontodrilus litoralis in Puerto Rico and its population dynamics in Cabo Rojo … abstract
 Extension of employing ITS region with new analyzing methods in the investigation of Hungarian Fridericia species … abstract
 Using molecular tools to identify New Zealand endemic earthworms in a mine restoration project. … abstract
CHANG C.-H. , JAMES S. , SHEN H.-P. , CHEN J.-H. :
 The supporting role of DNA barcoding in earthworm taxonomy … abstract
 The biodiversity of the Diyarbakır region, Turkey … abstract
CSUZDI Cs. , POP V.V. , POP A.A. :
 Significance of the Apuseni Mountains (the Carpathians) in the origin and distribution of the Central European Earthworm fauna … abstract
 Usefulness of the nephridia in the taxonomy of the family of Enchytraeidae (Annelida: Oligochaeta) … abstract
 Earthworm fauna of the western Mazandaran province, Iran … abstract
 Intraspecific variations of the setae arrangement in three populations of Eisenia fetida (Savigny, 1826) … abstract
 Diploid-polyploid complexes of earthworms (Oligochaeta: Lumbricidae) in the fauna of Ukraine: genetic structure and morphological peculiarities … abstract
 Effect of herbicide (butachlor) on earthworm Lampito mauritii — Its histological perspicuity … abstract
 Molecular systematics of selected South Indian species of earthworms by using 18s rDNA and amplified rDNA restriction analysis … abstract
 Earthworm diversity of Phou Leoi mountain NBCA, Laos  … abstract
HONG Y. and JAMES S. :
 Six New Earthworm Species of the genus Pheretima (Oligochaeta: Megascolecidae) from Balbalan-Balbalasang, Kalinga Province, Philippines … abstract
HONG Y. , JAMES S. and KIM T.-H.:
 Occurrence of earthworms in the Korean agroecosystem … abstract
 Phylogeny of Crassiclitellata … abstract
JAMES S. , CHANG C.-H. , SHEN H.-P. , CHEN J.-H. :
 Preliminary molecular systematics of the Pheretima complex … abstract
 The characteristics of earthworm (Lumbricidae) communities along vertically stratified transect of Velika Kapela Mountain grasslands (Croatia) … abstract
 The earthworms of Crete — faunistic aspects with consideration of vegetation and land use … abstract
 Taxonomical diversity of Oligochaeta in the Baikal region (East Siberia, Russia) … abstract
 Systematic position of Baikal Lumbriculidae: morphological and molecular phylogeny … abstract
 Distribution of Octolasion cyaneum (Savigny 1826) in Estonia 1993-2008 … abstract
 Taxonomic study of earthworms from the western parts of Iran  … abstract
 Earthworms of the Central Alborz Mountains, Iran … abstract
 Distribution of Anatolian endemic species in Turkey … abstract
 Earthworms of the Azarbaijan and Ardabil Provinces in Iran … abstract
 Diversity of earthworms in Kerala, India. … abstract
 Earthworms ecological demography in two palm groves situated at Oued Righ in the Saharian area of Touggourt … abstract
 Biodiversity in the soil: earthworms in the Middle East … abstract
 A review of the South African endemic Proandricus lesothoensis species-group (Oligochaeta: Microchaetidae) … abstract
 Remarks on the status of the Madagascarian earthworm taxon Kynotus Michaelsen, 1891 … abstract
 Identification of Oligochaeta species in the Sari Township, Northern Iran, 2007-2008 … abstract
 Morpho-ecological forms of Dendrobaena schmidti Мichaelsen, 1907 (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) of the North Caucasus … abstract
 Earthworm communities in forest monocultures. Siemianice common garden experiment. … abstract
 Earthworm communities and soil structure in alluvial river ecosystems … abstract
 A discussion on the relationship between Darwin's study of earthworms, his theory of evolution and his personal struggles (to mark the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his most important work, ‘On the Origin of Species’) … abstract
 Hot-spot regions of earthworms in western Uttar-Pradesh, India … abstract
 Histological study of the earthworm Octodrillus complanatus and collagen distribution in its tissues … abstract
 Littoral Oligochaeta (Lumbriculidae and Enchytraeidae) communities of some mountain lakes on Eastern Black Sea range (Turkey) … abstract
 Diversity and distribution of earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in native soils of the Kola North … abstract

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Adaptive forms of life forms of Aporrectodea caliginosa (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae)


State University E.A. Buketov, Department of Zoology, Karaganda, Republic of Kazakhstan, e-mail:

We consider that the morphoecological differentiations between species of Lumbricidae have adaptive character. For our research on features functioning, the amplitude and frequency of contractions of gut smooth muscles have been chosen. The contractive activity of earthworms visceral muscles was studied according to the method of isolated preparations (Blattner et al. 1983).

The greatest amplitude of contractions 86,71±3,66 per mg was recorded in worms of mineral soils such as Aporrectodea caliginosa caliginosa in which the frequency of contractions of visceral muscles has been 2,46±0,58 contr/min. It is possible that in detritophages the gut muscles pushes the dense food weight, but their contractions are not more frequent than 2-3 times in a minute. The muscles of surface-living Aporrectodea caliginosa trapezoides showed reduced amplitude 49,58±2,56 per mg, and frequencies 4,89±0,37 contr/min. This species digest decaying vegetative remains which act in their intestines as friable food weight, completely accessible to digestion. Species of mineral soils have a greater amplitude of gut muscles contractions than the leaf-litter species. This fact is probably connected with differences in diet.

As a whole, it is possible to conclude that parameters of spontaneous contractive activity of smooth muscles of earthworm guts are related to the species life characteristics in biocenosis. These parameters are stable characteristics of species which are adapted to consumption of certain types of food resources in natural habitats.


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Earthworm taxonomic structure of coffee plantations at three soil associations in Puerto Rico


Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, USA

The taxonomic structure of earthworms of coffee plantations systems at three different areas in Puerto Rico (Las Marias, Lares and Jayuya) which represent different soil types was assessed for the first time. Organisms were hand sorted from two consecutive, 15 cm deep soil layers in a 0.25 m2, and various soil analyses were carried out. Only four earthworm species were found: Pontoscolex corethrurus, Pontoscolex spiralis, Pontoscolex melissae and Pheretima sp.

Earthworm density and biomass, soil moisture, organic matter content, total nitrogen and texture varied significantly between coffee plantation system (sun, shade, and forest) and between areas. A greater density and biomass at all areas and coffee plantation systems were found in the first top soil layer and a higher density and biomass of exotic species was found in the most perturbed areas as expected. P. corethrurus was found at all coffee plantations. Jayuya, the area with the highest elevation had the higher density and biomass. On the other hand, P. melissae is a rare species and only have been found twice since its description.
[oral presentation]


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Taxonomy of the earthworms in the North-West of Tehran


School of Biology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Iran, e-mail:

The presented results are based on the study of the earthworm fauna in the North-West of Tehran. So far, no researches were carried out for the identification of the earthworm species from Tehran. Recently, a few research projects were carried out in some areas of Iran. In this survey specimens of earthworms were collected from three different localities. These species belong to the family Lumbricidae.The following four species were identified: Dendrodrilus rubidus, Dendrobanea veneta, Eiseniella tetraedra and Aporrectodea caliginosa.


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Accumulation of heavy metals by earthworms in boron contaminated area (Kırka-Eskişehir)


1Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Science and Art Faculty, Biology Department, Meselik, Eskisehir, Turkey
2Anodolu University, Applied Research Centre for Environmental Problems, Eskisehir, Turkey

Boron is a naturally occurring material and is used in domestic and industrial products. The Kırka region possesses the largest Boron deposits not only in Turkey but also in the world. Even though, boron is an essential nutrient for plants and an essential element for many organisms, it can be toxic to aquatic and terrestrial organisms above certain concentrations.

This paper is to investigate the concentration of boron in soil and in earthworms (Eiseniella tetraedra) collected from five sampling sites at different times during the year 2008 from the surrounding Kırka county of Eskişehir. Because the adsorption of borates to soils is controlled by the presence of aluminium and iron, earthworms and soil samples were also analyzed for the presence of aluminium and iron. Our results showed that earthworm samples accumulated more boron than soil and that at five sampling sites aluminium and iron were present in soil at relatively high concentrations.


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To develop a design for criteria for high cost effective simplification of fast-paced vermireactors based on epigeic earthworms


Vermiculture Research Station, Department of Zoology, D. S. College, Aligarh, UP, India

The know-how developed earlier by the authors for resource recovery from household wastes, crop wastes and weeds was extended to subsistence farmers and householders in rural India. An objective of the study was to identify technological, operational and sociological problems which may be faced when transferring this know-how to similar rural populations in the developing countries. We have simplified the design of epigeic-based vermireactors by doing away with layers of gravel, sand and soil normally used for maintaining the other types (anecic and endogeic) of earthworms in the vermireactors. Instead, we have laid a moistened cotton cloth at the bottom of a circular vermireaction tank and have laid the feed over it. This arrangement provides the epigeics with a thin, moisture-rich layer of solids beneath the humus-like compost used in the reactors as feed. The bottom layer mimics the moist soil below the mulch and humus which the epigeics use for their shallow burrows in natural environments. By doing away with the conventionally used elaborate vermibed, which used to take up ~5% of the vermireactor volume in the conventional systems, we have effectively increased the usable fraction of the reactor volume, thereby enabling a much higher feed throughout per litre of the reactor.

One year long operation of the conventional and the modified vermireactors in two concurrently run batches — one operating at low density of Perionyx excavatus and the other in the high-rate mode — revealed that vermicast production per litre of reactor volume in both batches of modified reactors was dramatically higher than the output in the corresponding conventional reactors
[oral presentation]


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Saga of Herr Hilgendorf's worms


C/- Yokohama National University, Yokohoma, Japan, e-mail:

Dr Franz Hilgendorf, who first introduced Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory to Tokyo in 1873, collected ‘Vermes’ that he sent to Dr Wilhelm Michaelsen in Hamburg to identify. Today, the ‘Metaphire hilgendorfi‘ (Michaelsen, 1892)/‘Amynthas tokioensis‘ (Beddard, 1892) parthenogenetic/clonal spp-complex has snowballed to >60 names, and its resolution yet remains the hottest, most pressing and seemingly intractable problem in Oriental (and Cosmopolitan!) earthworm systematics. Reproductive structures, morphometrics, colouration or intestinal caeca characterizations are largely defunct. And molecular/phylogenetic ‘solutions’ are utterly meaningless without DNA analysis of Types (or Neotypes from type-localities) in strict chronological priority required by ICZN.

Revised diagnosis now accepts ‘Metaphire‘ spp. (Blakemore, 2003; 2005; 2007), from morphs having non-superficial male pores; ‘A.  tokioensis‘ (?‘M. levis‘ and ? ‘A.  paiki‘ syns. nov.), as a new record from USA, and ‘A.  agrestis‘ (Goto & Hatai, 1899) (?‘minjai‘ syn. nov.) are reviewed; ‘M. soulensis‘ (Kobayashi, 1938) and ? ‘M. koellikeri‘ (Michaelsen, 1928) are restored; and the dubious ‘A.  defectus‘ (Gates, 1930) (syn. ‘jacita‘) is newly added.

Work is urgently needed to separate ‘Amynthas‘ from ‘Metaphire spp‘., (assuming these genera are tenable), and to use genomics to progressively sort the degraded morphs under their respective types. A generation ago, Gates (1972: 95) said that naming intermediate morphs is "ridiculous‘”; despite this, many names continue to be added by workers in Japan or Korea who mutually ignore earlier work in either country, or elsewhere.

Ishizuka (1999-2001) named dozens of “‘‘Pheretima”’ synonyms, ignoring components of the spp-complex recorded in or outside Japan (Easton, 1981: 52), e.g. ‘gucheonensis‘ Song & Paik, 1970 (misspelt “‘guchonensis‘” or “‘gucheoensis‘”);‘ jiriensis‘ Song & Paik, 1971; ‘koreana‘ and ‘shinkeiensis‘ by Kobayashi (1938); to this list are added the dozen or so Korean taxa with manicate caeca by Hong & James (2001) or Hong & Lee (2001), viz.: ‘A. yongshilensis, A. alveolatus, A. geomunensis, A. eastoni, A. boletiformis, A. odaesanensis, A. righii, A. fasciiformis, A. sanchongensis, A. songnisanensis, A. ephippiatus‘, and ‘A. multimaculatus‘ plus synonymic ? ‘Amynthas dageletensis‘ Hong & Kim, 2005 that has the lowest priority within the 117 year-old saga.

[oral presentation]


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Distribution of Pontodrilus litoralis in Puerto Rico and its population dynamics in Cabo Rojo


Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, USA

Pontodrilus litoralis has only been reported from Cabo Rojo, near a lighthouse located on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico. The beaches on the island were surveyed to determine the distribution of this species. The structure and dynamics of the populations of Pontodrilus litoralis in Cabo Rojo were studied as well. In May, 2008, the sandy littoral shores of two beaches on each side of the lighthouse were sampled during low tide. Distances from the tide mark and depth stratification in sand were taken into account. Environmental factors such as temperature, pH, humidity, organic matter, and surface accumulation of plant debris were registered. Spatial distribution of Pontodrilus litoralis was determined to be aggregated in clusters. These clusters were predominant right at the high tide mark where sand was always humid but never completely submerged under seawater. Temperature was determined to be the primary factor in the distribution dynamics of this oligochaete species: sites with the lowest temperatures seemed to have the highest number of individuals.


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Extension of employing ITS region with new analyzing methods in the investigation of Hungarian Fridericia species


Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Eötvös Loránd University
Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C, 1117 Budapest, Hungary, e-mails:,

The same species of genus Fridericia (Oligochaeta: Enchytraeidae) collected from different localities should have little differences in their morphology as documented, for example, in the number of nephridia in Fridericia maculatiformis DÓZSA-FARKAS 1972. Individuals of this species have four pairs of nephridia at Sashegy Nature Conservation Area but five pairs occur in the population of Szent György-hegy Reserved Area, Hungary (CECH & DÓZSA-FARKAS, 2006). Another example is Fridericia aurita ISSEL, 1905: here the length and width of the spermathecal ectal duct varies between relatively wide ranges (BOROS et al. 2007). However, the differences in only one or two main characters can cause taxonomic difficulties or may raise the possibility of the presence a subspecies during the identification of enchytraeid worms when several characters are investigated simultaneously.

Using molecular biological techniques helps solving the taxonomic difficulties. In the researches mentioned above and in a subsequent study (Dózsa-Farkas & Cech 2006), the ITS (Internal Transcribed Spacer) came into focus. The ITS represents mainly a non-coding region of the ribosomal DNA located between the 18S and 28S rDNA’s. In the present analysis, in continuation of the earlier ITS studies, we examined morphologically and genetically additional Fridericia species from different parts of Hungary and we extended the number of the investigated fields. In addition to MrBayes software, a new statistical method, Bool-An, (not published) was used to make phylogenic trees.

We established that molecular biological techniques confirm that individuals from the same species, but collected from different localities, have the same genetic profile, while very similar species can be shown to segregate clearly on the phylogenetic tree based on divergence of certain external or internal characters. Even though partial sequences give us only rough information about the phylogenetic position of the species, the ITS region is suitable to investigate closely related enchytraeid worms and to differentiate the morphologically similar species.
[oral presentation]


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Using molecular tools to identify New Zealand endemic earthworms in a mine restoration project.


Lincoln University, Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand, e–,,

In New Zealand, 173 endemic earthworm species were described by K.E. Lee in 1958. Only minor revisions have occurred since this date. A restoration ecology project in the West Coast region of New Zealand is interested in rehabilitating the local fauna of endemic earthworms after mining activities.

Species identification is performed by morphological analysis (following Lee's taxonomic key) and DNA analysis (using the mitochondrial 16S gene).

A thousand individuals have been collected, of which only 5% were adults. Preliminary results revealed the existence of at least 11 undescribed species in a small sampling area (2600 ha). These results emphasize the potentially high diversity of endemic earthworm species that may exist in New Zealand, particularly in undisturbed remote areas and this probably reflects the high rate of specialization of these species. Because most collected individuals were juveniles and keys are based only on adults, part of this diversity would have remained undetected without DNA analyses of juveniles.

From an ecological point of view, the use of molecular techniques for invertebrate species identification is becoming indispensable to maximize information obtained from each sample. This approach minimizes sampling effort and population disturbance.

Other applications will be explored, such as the sequencing of type specimens (from the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum), and the study of earthworm remains in predator's faeces (Powelliphanta carnivorous landsnails).
[oral presentation]


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The supporting role of DNA barcoding in earthworm taxonomy


1Institute of Zoology and Department of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, e-mail: or
2Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA, e-mail:
3Habitat and Ecosystem Division, Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, Chichi, Nantou, Taiwan
e-mail (first author):

To demonstrate the usefulness of DNA barcodes in earthworm taxonomy, we made an analysis using the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) sequences of the Pheretima complex (Clitellata: Megascolecidae). In this analysis, the monophyly of most species was supported; levels of sequence variation are appropriate for species separation but not suitable for interspecific phylogenetic reconstruction. In addition, several new species were discovered, and some previously proposed synonyms were supported or rejected. Finally, we showed that the integrative approach that combines morphology and DNA data might facilitate the discovery and description of new species.
[oral presentation]


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The biodiversity of the Diyarbakır region, Turkey


Dicle Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi Biyoloji Bölümü, Diyarbakır, Turkey

The biological diversity of any given region depends primarily on its geographic position, climate and on the habitat heterogeneity. Many other environmental factors affect the species local distributions, their abundance and the species richness. The knowledge of local species distribution provides basic data for the regional conservation planning and management of protected areas.

The Diyarbakır region is located on the right bank of the Tigris (Dicle) river in the south-east Anatolian region of Turkey, to the north of the Mesopotamian plain. The composition of the regional biodiversity is influenced by its geographical position on a crossroad of different zoogeographic realms (Oriental, Palaearctic, Saharo-Sindian).

The region is rich in plant species, about 30–35 % of Turkey’s plant species are recorded in this area. Last but not least, the region has been considered as a centre of biodiversity, including genetic diversity, of some agriculturally important plants and as a possible place of domestication for some of them.

Information on the fauna of the region is very limited, especially concerning invertebrates. Expectedly, the diversity of invertebrates (mainly insects) is very high due to the richness in plants. However, no reliable estimate is available for the number of invertebrates, although it is assumed to be not less than 30 000 species. For example, a total of 47 zooplanktonic species have been identified in a small lake in the Diyarbakır province.

Twenty seven species of herpetofauna — five amphibians and 22 reptiles — occur in the region. About nine of these are lizards. The world population of the Euphrates soft shell turtle, Rafetus euphraticus, one of the most endangered species in the region, is confined to Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

Birds are by far the most studied taxon in Diyarbakır and its surrounding regions with special habitats and numerous bird species. In total, 221 bird species belonging to 17 orders and 51 families have been reported from the region.

The terrestrial mammal fauna of the region consisted originally of 33 species belonging to 17 families. Most of the mammal species recorded from the area are assigned to one of the following zoogeographical categories: Palaearctic, Saharo-Indian and Oriental.

The biodiversity of the Diyarbakır region has not yet been investigated in detail. It is clear that our knowledge about the distribution and biology of the several taxa is not sufficient in this region, and will require further intense field research.
[oral presentation]


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Significance of the Apuseni Mountains (the Carpathians) in the origin and distribution of the Central European Earthworm fauna


1Systematic Zoology Research Group of HAS and Department of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary, e–mail:
2Institute of Biological Research, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, e–mail:
3 Institute of Zoology, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany and Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, Germany, e-mail:

The Apuseni Mountains, an almost circular massif of 150 km diameter, are situated inside of the Carpathian belt, between the Transylvanian and Pannonian basins. They include medium height mountains with the highest peaks 1849 m (Bihor) and 1838 m (Vladeasa). Regarding their origin, the Apuseni Mts. show a dual feature. While the origin of the Northern part is the result of the collision of the Tisza and Dacia microplates, the southern part has a more complicated tectonic history. It is of Cretaceous origin and considered to be shifted from the Vardar (Dinaric) region. During the Miocene times, the Parathetys Sea repeatedly fragmented this mountain massif into several islands. It seems that the quaternary glaciations affected, but only partially, the Apuseni Mts. and most of their territory remained ice free. At present, these mountains are covered by oak, beech and spruce forests, with a narrow subalpine belt of dwarf Pinus mugo scrubs.

The earthworm fauna of these mountains is very rich in species, most of them being narrow endemics. Till now 38 Lumbricidae taxa are known from the Apuseni Mts., of which 20 are found exclusively there. This high number of local endemism is in accordance with the tectonic history of the region. In the southern part, with patchily distributed limestone areas, an accelerated insular-like speciation resulted in many endemic large-bodied Octodrilus species. In the northern volcanic part, other endemics such as Dendrobaena sp. n. and Allolobophora prosellodacica are found. These species show an allopatric distribution with their Carpathian vicariant sister species D. attemsi and A. sturanyi dacidoides respectively. The origin of such Apuseni–Carpathian species pairs is possibly due to the Parathetys transgressions which isolated the Carpathians from the Apuseni Mts. for a long time. After final retreat of the Parathetys from the Carpathian Basin some species with larger dispersion capabilities such as Dendrobaena clujensis, Allolobophora sturanyi dacica, Allolobophora mehadiensis etc. migrated to hilly and plain habitats at lower altitudes and form what is presently described as the Dacian faunal element. The high number of endemic species, as well as their area patterns place the Apuseni Mts. as a hot-spot of lumbricid diversification and distribution in Central Europe. Our molecular phylogenetic investigations (16S and COI sequences) seem to corroborate this scenario.
[oral presentation]


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Usefulness of the nephridia in the taxonomy of the family of Enchytraeidae (Annelida: Oligochaeta)


Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/C, 1117 Budapest, Hungary, e-mail:

The structure and development of the nephridium in the subclass of Oligochaeta were studied by such famous researchers as Vejdovský (1884), Beddard (1895), Michaelsen (1928), Stephenson (1930), Bahl (1946). From these studies, we know that this organ is morphologically highly variable in the different families of Oligochaeta. The most diversified forms of nephridia occur probably in earthworms, where we can differentiate two types: holonephridia and meronephridia. Both types can be exonephric, i.e. the nephridium penetrates the body-wall opening to the exterior, and enteronephric, i.e. the nephridium opens into the intestine through a common excretory canal. Bahl (1946) classified the meronephridia even into three groups. The type, the location, and the number of nephridia can characterize some of the Oligochaeta families (Omodeo 1955, Sims 1986, Jamieson 1971, Csuzdi 1995, 1996, 2006).

The metanephridia in the Enchytraeidae family are holo-exonephric; i.e., they always have a ciliated funnel connected to a coiled duct which opens to the organism exterior (through a nephridial pore) in the next segment. The body of the nephridia is covered by a layer of peritoneum. Nielsen & Christensen (1959) made a distinction between two main types of nephridia: 1.) The interstitial tissue is much reduced in the postseptale (characteristic for genera Mesenchytraeus and Cernosvitoviella) or 2.) The intestitial tissue of the postseptale is well developed (characteristic for the remaining genera).

The form and the structure of the preseptale along with the ratio of the size of the preseptale and postseptale may differ significantly from genus to genus (Michaelsen 1886, Stephenson 1932, Nielsen & Christensen 1959). However, because the form, the size of nephridia and the origin of the efferent ducts often vary in the preclitellar and postclitellar segments of the same individual, most of researchers do not use these characteristics in species taxonomy. Schmelz (2003), however, calls our attention to these characteristics and proclaimed that they are usable in the identification of the species in the genus Fridericia.

We have studied the usefulness of the different nephridia characteristics in the species identification. Our poster presentation shows the types of nephridia in the different genera of Enchytraedae. It was examined if these excretory organs, concerning the different numbers of nephridia in the preclitellar and postclitellar segments of different genera, species, and specimens, can be called “segment organs”.

This research was financed by the National Scientific Research Foundation (OTKA 49635).


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Earthworm fauna of the western Mazandaran province, Iran


School of Biology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Earthworm distribution was studied over a period of a year from April 2007 to April 2008 at 18 designated stations. Samples were collected in wet soil, in leaf litter under forest canopy, under logs and stones, under dead tree barks as well as in rotting logs and decaying plants.

The following ten species belonging to six genera and two families were identified: Aporrectodea caliginosa, A. jassyensis, Dendrobaena byblica complex, D. hortensis, D. octaedra, D. veneta, Eisenia fetida, Eiseniella tetraedra, Perelia kaznakovi (family Lumbricidae) and Amynthas corticiscortices (family Megascolecidae). Among these species E. tetraedra represents a new record for the studied region.


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Intraspecific variations of the setae arrangement in three populations of Eisenia fetida (Savigny, 1826)


School of Biology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Usefulness of the setal formula for interspecific differentiation and comparisons was demonstrated by Moreno (2007). Nonetheless the use of this formula to differentiate lower taxa is ambiguous. To test this formula, the relative distances between setae were measured and differences were analysed based on the percentage of body circumference in three populations of Eisenia fetida (Savigny, 1826). Based on the Hierarchical Cluster and Discriminant analyses, one population is relatively separated from the remaining two. It was confirmed by means of the Hierarchical Cluster, Discriminant and Principal Component analyses that the aa and ab setae are more efficient in segregation of these populations. However, the results of the present study revealed that setae variability patterns are not sufficient to differentiate among populations.


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Diploid-polyploid complexes of earthworms (Oligochaeta: Lumbricidae) in the fauna of Ukraine: genetic structure and morphological peculiarities


1I. Franco State Zhitomir University, Velyka Berdychivska St., 40, Zhitomir, Ukraine, e-mail:
2Dep. Evol. Genet. Basis of Systematics. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology NAS of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine, e-mail:

The investigation of genetic structure of diploid-polyploid earthworm taxa in the fauna of Ukraine is done by means of biochemical gene marking, karyotyping and accompanied by the analysis of morphological changeability.

Aporrectodea caliginosaA. trapezoides. A. caliginosa – diploid (2n =36) amphimictic species distributed in the whole territory of Ukraine, with exception of the southern steppe zone and Crimea.

Parthenogenetic A. trapezoides is characterized by a triploid set of chromosomes (3n = 54) and a polyclonal structure. Among 242 individuals 29 clones are registered. The species is distributed in the whole territory, but its abundance dominates in number in the South and in the steppe regions of Ukraine. Papilles location and pigmentation play a key role in the discrimination between two species only after taking into account peculiarities of the different clones.

A. rosea. Among individuals of this species di- (2n = 36), tri- (3n = 54), hexa- (6n = 108) and octo- (8n ≈ 144) forms are registered. The triploid form is dominating. The species is polyclonal with a very high level of clone diversity. Among 224 individuals 96 clones are identified, 67 of which are represented by a single individual.

Octolasion lacteum. At least 18 cryptic genetically different biotypes are registered. In the northern and central parts of Ukraine two polymorphic symbiotopic reproductively isolated forms dominate. These two forms make about 90% of the investigated individuals that differ in fixation of alternative alleles of non-specific esterases. They are characterized by a subtriploid set of chromosomes (2n+x = 38) and by an anomalous spermatogenesis going on with a chromosome number smaller than a haploid one. At least 10 subtriploid probably clone forms are found mainly as single individuals. In the south of the steppe zone of Ukraine only clone forms having according to the karyological analysis of the earthworms in Crimea triploid genome structure (3n = 54) are registered.

Octodrillus transpadanus. South-eastern populations have clonal structure. Two main forms are identified differing in isoenzyme spectra, having heptaploid set of chromosomes (7n ≈ 105). Western (the karyotype is not stable, the chromosome number varies from 3n = 45 to 4n = 60) and south-western (2n = 30) populations are characterized with exceptionally high level of genetic polymorphism. In some cases it was impossible to find two individuals with the same spectra. The earthworms in the Crimea (4n = 60) have no clonal structure. They are characterized with specific for the species alleles of enzyme loci and have obvious morphological differences from continental forms.

Similar results have been obtained also on other numerous polyploid species of earthworms (Eiseniella tetraedra, Dendrodrilus rubidus and Dendrobaena octaedra).


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Effect of herbicide (butachlor) on earthworm Lampito mauritii — Its histological perspicuity


1Department of Genetics, School of Biological Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, Taminilnadu, India
2Sri Paramakalyani Centre for Environmental Sciences, Manonmaniam Sundarnar University, Alwarkurichi, Tamilnadu,India

To explore the effect of exposure to commercial herbicide (butachlor) on the life history parameters (biomass, clitellum development and cocoon production) and the histological changes in the earthworm Lampito mauritii over 60 days.

The dried cow dung was contaminated with 0.1554 mg kg–1, 0.3108 mg kg–1 and 1.5540 mg kg–1 of butachlor based on the LC50 value, and a control was maintained.

The mean earthworm biomass was found to be decreased with increasing herbicide concentration. Similarly, cocoon production was also reduced by the increasing herbicide concentration. All earthworms in the exposed group were found to have glandular cell enlargement and to be vacuolated. The effect of the herbicide butachlor can be assessed by the histological observation of the intestinal region, as evidenced by glandular cell enlargement at all the exposed concentrations, which may massively affect food intake and which in turn may indirectly inhibit the earthworm reproductive capacity.
[oral presentation]


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Molecular systematics of selected South Indian species of earthworms by using 18s rDNA and amplified rDNA restriction analysis


Madurai Kamaraj University, Department of Genetics, School of Biological Sciences, Madurai, Taminilnadu, India


The Indian subcontinent is rich in earthworm fauna, with about 506 known species belonging to about 65 genera. Nine families - Moniligastridae, Criodilidae, Lumbricidae, Glossoscolicidae, Almidae, Ocnerodrilidae, Acanthodrilidae, Ochtochaetidae and Megascolecidae, are known in the Indian subcontinent. Though majority of the forms have specific habitat preference, a few ubiquitous species also occur. It is therefore, important to critically assess existing diversity in Indian earthworms by using molecular tools like 18S rDNA and amplified rDNA restriction analysis (ARDRA).

The small subunit of ribosomal DNA (18S rDNA) was amplified and sequenced. One of these consists of amplification of the 18S rDNA-gene followed by separate restriction digestions with different restriction enzymes. This yields restriction patterns which in combination result in ARDRA profiles which enable differentiation between species. This approach could be applied for the confirmation of all earthworm species and subspecies.


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Earthworm diversity of Phou Leoi mountain NBCA, Laos


1Department of Agricultural Biology, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Republic of Korea, e-mail:
2Biodiversity Institute University of Kansas USA, e-mail:
3Biology Department, Faculty of Science, National University of Laos, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Located in Hoaphane Province about 900 km from Vientiane in the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, Nam Et-Phou Leoi National Biodiversity Conservation Area (NBCA) has the greatest biodiversity and the second largest area of Laotian NBCAs. The earthworm survey of the forested core discovered many species of Amynthas (Megascolecidae). Seven new species fall within the aeruginosus group characterized by spermathecal pores on 7/8 and 8/9, and five new species are in the corticis group with spermathecal pores in 5/6-8/9. Among the aeruginosus-group species, a distinctive feature of these worms is the coiled prostate glands, which are in several species coiled clockwise on the left side and anti-clockwise on the right side. The glands are generally divided into many (>8) small lobes. All the new species of this group have simple intestinal caeca. The corticis-group species have manicate or pinnate caeca, the prostate ducts are short and direct, and the glands are divided into 3-6 lobes. Both groups of Laotian worms introduce new character state diversity into their respective species-groups.
[oral presentation]


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Six New Earthworm Species of the genus Pheretima (Oligochaeta: Megascolecidae) from Balbalan-Balbalasang, Kalinga Province, Philippines

HONG Y.1 and JAMES S.2

1Faculty of Biological Resources Science, College of Agriculture, Cheonbuk National University, Jeonju 561-756, Republic of Korea,
2Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, U.S.A., e-mail:

Yong Hong and Samuel W. James (200X). Six new species of the genus Pheretima are described from forested lands near the village of Balbalasang in Barangay Balbalan, Kalinga Province, Luzon Island, the Philippines: Pheretima kalingaensissp. nov., Pheretima aguinaldoi sp. nov., Pheretima balbalanensis sp. nov., Pheretima banaoi sp. nov., Pheretima pugnatoris sp. nov., and Pheretima tabukensis sp. nov. Pheretima kalingaensis sp. nov. and Pheretima aguinaldoi sp. nov. They have spermathecal pores in 6/7, 0.09-0.16 and 0.21 circumference apart, respectively Pheretima balbalanensis sp. nov. and Pheretima banaoi sp. nov. belong to the dubia group in Sims and Easton (1972) with three pairs of spermathecal pores in 6/7-8/9. In Pheretima balbalanensis sp. nov. the penis is a transverse ridge with apical pore, but in Pheretima banaoi sp. nov. the penis is a small elliptical bump. Pheretima pugnatoris sp. nov. and Pheretima tabukensis sp. nov. belong to the darnleiensis group in Sims and Easton with four pairs of spermathecal pores in 5/6-8/9. Pheretima pugnatoris sp. nov. has pale pigmentation, lacks septa 8/9/10 and has a typhlosole. Pheretima tabukensis sp. nov. has dark pigmentation including part of the ventral surface, has septa 8/9/10 and lacks a typhlosole. Descriptions of the new species are provided, including illustrations of the ventral view, and spermathecae. Reproductive anatomy suggests that penes of the Philippines darnleiensis-group members are not intromittent organs, and that some of the non-darnleiensis group members are derived from the darnleiensis-group.
[oral presentation]


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Occurrence of earthworms in the Korean agroecosystem

HONG Y.1, JAMES S.2 and KIM T.-H.

1Faculty of Biological Resources Science, College of Department of Agricultural Biology, College of Agriculture Life Sciences, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Republic of Korea, e-mail:
2Kansas University Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, USA

The species richness and the abundance of earthworms in the Korean agroecosystem was assessed on the basis of 4,817 individuals collected from 2006 to 2008. Material was gathered from 69 various crop types, vegetables, fruit trees, and resting stages, etc. The specimens studied in the present work had been collected from soils by digging and hand sorting. They encompassed 3 families, 5 genera, and 14 species. Species composition and abundance were as follows: Amynthas koreanus 18.6%, Amynthas heteropodus 15.7%, Amynthas agrestis 12.4%, Amynthas sp. (aclitellates) 11.2%, Drawida japonica 7.6%, Eisenia fetida 7.6%, Aporrectodea tuberculata 6.7%, Aporrectodea caliginosa 4.9%, Amynthas hilgendorfi 4.2%, Bimastos parvus 3.6%, Amynthas hupeiensis 2.3%, Amynthas corticis 2.0%, Drawida nemora 1.9%, and Eisenia andrei 1.3%. Among them, A. koreanus is the only endemic species. The most numerous species were A. koreanus, A. heteropodus, and A. agrestis with a total abundance of 46.7%. The clitellate vs. aclitellate ratio of the earthworms was approximately 1.0 : 1.1 in different seasons from May to October.
[oral presentation]


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Phylogeny of Crassiclitellata


University of Kansas, Natural History Museum, and Biodiversity Research Center, Lawrence, Kansas, USA, e-mail:

The evolutionary relationships among families of earthworms have been debated for over a century. Different schemes of classification have emphasized different sets of characters or interpreted the same characters in different ways. All these informal, pattern recognition-based systems cannot easily be defended against the arguments raised by competing hypotheses of homology, but
for the same reason neither can any one system be raised above the others .

New data types suitable for explicit methods of analysis, and independent of the old homology problems, are required. To address this need I obtained broad taxonomic sampling across nearly all known/recognized families of earthworms (Crassiclitellata) plus other Clitellata, including Moniligastridae, Enchytraeidae and Haplotaxidae(?) and sequenced a set of nuclear and mitochondrial genes for all of them. Bayesian analysis of these data support the following hypotheses:
  • Crassiclitellata is monophyletic;
  • The Glossoscolecidae is not;
  • Eudrilidae is not a sister taxon to the Megascolecoidae but rather to one clade within the present Glossoscolecidae;
  • The remaining Glossoscolecidae are a sister clade to the Microchaetidae;
  • A Hormogastridae plus Ailoscolecidae clade is the sister taxon to the Lumbricidae;
  • Sparganophilidae is a basal clade with relationships to Biwadrilidae and Kynotidae;
  • The megascolecoid assemblage of (Ocnerodrilidae (Acanthodrilidae + Megascolecidae)) is a clade;
  • Moniligastridae are the sister taxon to the Crassiclitellata.
Sampling coverage was not sufficient to examine the Octochaetidae vs. Acanthodrilidae issue, because no Indian material was available. Further sampling is needed to place the Alluroididae, Tumakidae and Syngenodrilidae in this phylogenetic context, and to resolve questions about within-family relationships.
[oral presentation]


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Preliminary molecular systematics of the Pheretima complex


1Kansas University Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, Lawrence, Kansas, USA, e-mail:
2Institute of Zoology and Department of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, e-mail:,
3Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, Nantou, Taiwan.
4Institute of Zoology and Department of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

The Pheretima complex is a group of earthworms in the Megascolecidae. Its distribution is in northeast Australia, Pacific islands, and East and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and the Philippines, with approximately 30 cosmopolitan species and more than 900 nominal species within 13 genera. Using the sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit1 (COI), 16S rRNA and 12S rRNA and the nucleus internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and 28S rRNA, we attempted to revise the systematics of this speciose group. The results showed some highly supported clades that were not observed in previous phylogenetic analyses. In addition, phylogenetic resolution increased with the increasing gene number analyzed. These results suggest that more taxa should be sampled and longer DNA sequences should be used before a preliminary revision of the Pheretima complex can be made.
[oral presentation]


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The characteristics of earthworm (Lumbricidae) communities along vertically stratified transect of Velika Kapela Mountain grasslands (Croatia)


Josip Juraj Strossmayer University, Department of Biology, Osijek, Croatia, e-mail:,

The earthworm species characteristics and compositions have been extensively reported in grasslands in the range from the temperate to the tropical zones. Generally, the spatial and temporal variability of earthworm populations is very high, both within and between differently managed types of land. Additionally, grassland ecosystem earthworm communities are reported as more heterogeneous and difficult to distinguish one from another in comparison to other types of ecosystems.

The current study involves seven sites situated along the transect from the city of Ogulin on the continental slope to the Novi Vinodolski on the Mediterranean slope of the Velika Kapela Mountain. The study area is interesting as the two climate zones, that are present on the Velika Kapela Mountain, are rather well separated on the south-eastern slope we find a Mediterranean zone and on the north-western slope a continental zone characterized by severe, snowy winters.

Within each site a plot of approximately 100 x 100 m in size was randomly selected. On each selected plot, seven random, seven transect and 14 regular grid sites were chosen for earthworm sampling A combination of hand sorting and expulsion by formalin methods was used for earthworm sampling. Furthermore, soil samples were taken and slope inclination was measured at each site.

From all three sampling designs, the transects had the lowest species number observed in all seven locations and the regular sampling elicited the highest number of species in five sites. The two sites on the south-eastern slope of the Velika Kapela Mountain had the lowest species richness among all locations. The total number of species per location ranged from three to eleven. Aporrectodea rosea was the only species present at all seven sites, followed by Dendrobaena octaedra and Octolasion lacteum found on five sites.The use of various species richness estimators revealed that there are more species to be expected.


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The earthworms of Crete — faunistic aspects with consideration of vegetation and land use


ITEC, Institut für Terrestrische Ökologie, Kubschütz, Germany, e-mail:

Crete, the greatest island of the Aegean Sea and one of the greater islands of the Mediterranean Sea, is situated just between the Western and Eastern part of the Mediterranean area. Under biogeographi-cal aspects it is often discussed whether this island is a point of intersection between the different Faunas and Floras of the Mediterranean Region. The island is characterized by three mountain mas-sifs (Lefka Ori in the Western part – up to 2453 m, Ida / Psilorotis in the Middle part – up to 2456 m and Oros Dikti in the Eastern part – up to 2148 m) with its geomorphological specifity and relatively similar geological conditions which appear nowadays as typical Mediterranean karstic landscapes.

The long lasting land use of more than 6000 years from the Pre-Minoan civilizations until now led to an extreme degradation of origin soils and vegetation so that it is now hardly possible to demonstrate the origin conditions. This situation is even more reflected by the earthworm fauna. Although we are at the beginning of studying it the few results of our collections and those of former collectors did not lead us to find relictic or endemic species, which could elucidate the origin conditions. The earthworm fauna is poor and dominated by ubiquitious species. This is in contrast to other animal groups (resp. insects) and also to plants. It will be demonstrated and discussed exemplarily on selected and well studied habitats which conditions we find considering soils, climatic/micoclimatic conditions, vegetation and land use. A point of main effort is led to the biotops of the higher altitudes, sites of extreme conditions in winter as in summer time, where the stature of plants is dominated by cushions and thorny cushions, a vegetation which has comparative conditions in the higher altitudes of the Anatolian mountains or even in Iran and Afghanistan. There we could find in small dolines with more moderate microclimate and better soil and moisture conditions relicts of an origin soil animal fauna.

The aspect of land use and earthworms in the different vegetation types of Crete will be discussed and on selected examples of cultivated land it will be demonstrated that the existance of earthworms and even a higher abundance/production of them is more a question of soil management than of a deficiency of suitable environmental factors.
[oral presentation]


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Taxonomical diversity of Oligochaeta in the Baikal region (East Siberia, Russia)


Limnological Institute, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk, Russia, e-mail:

The Baikal region, located in the centre of Asia in East Siberia, is a huge area adjoining Lake Baikal. With 1,637 meters, Lake Baikal is the deepest and the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The extent of biodiversity present in Lake Baikal is equalled by few other lakes. The diversity of the aquatic fauna has been well studied during last century. Oligochaeta predominate in all depths and ground types. It is currently known that Baikal hosts 209 oligochaete species, more than 80% of them are endemic.

In contrast to the efforts devoted to research on the aquatic fauna of the Baikal lake, the earthworms of the Baikal region have never been investigated. The first study of the soil fauna started in 2008 only. Our preliminary results and prospects for investigating the soil oligochaete fauna of the Baikal region will be discussed.
[oral presentation]


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Systematic position of Baikal Lumbriculidae: morphological and molecular phylogeny


Limnological Institute, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk, Russia, e-mail:

The integrated analysis of phylogenetic relationships of the Lumbriculidae (Oligochaeta) of Lake Baikal (Eastern Siberia, Russia) was conducted using morphological and molecular data sets. Species of the most representative genera inhabiting the lake, Lamprodrilus, Agriodrilus, Teleuscolex, Stylodrilus, Styloscolex, Pseudorhynchelmis and Rhynchelmis, were included in the data set. This analysis confirms the close relationships between all four groups of Clitellata (Hirudinea, Acanthobellida, Branchiobdellida and Oligochaeta). The data support the hypothesis that the family Lumbriculidae is a group linking parasitic and free-living Clitellata. A polymorphic group of Baikalian lumbriculid is clustered separately from other representatives of the same family, thus indicating uniqueness of the oligochaete fauna of Lake Baikal, which has evolved in the relatively closed ecosystem of this ancient lake, consisting of 57 species (almost 1/3 of the world lumbriculid fauna).

The monophyly of most lumbriculid genera was recovered by both morphological and molecular data, with the exception of Lamprodrilus and Rhynchelmis. The polyphyletic nature of Rhynchelmis provided support for the revalidation of the genus Pseudorhynchelmis. The lack of phylogenetic signal in the group consisting from three lumbriculid genera Agriodrilus, Teleuscolex and Lamprodrilus was interpreted as evidence of explosive radiation with forming a genuine species flock, approx. 4-3 million years ago, and was put in the context of the Baikal Rift Zone history.
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Distribution of Octolasion cyaneum (Savigny 1826) in Estonia 1993-2008


Tallinn University of Technology, Tartu College, Puiestee 78, 51008 Tartu, Estonia

Earthworms occur all over the world. There are about 220 species of lumbricids, of which 19 are common in Europe and 13 in Estonia. Species of the family Lumbricidae, particularly the genera Lumbricus, Aporrectodea, Allolobophora, Eisenia, Eiseniella, Dendrobaena, Dendrodrilus, Bimastos, Octalasion have been spread by man in northern and western Europe and they became dominant earthworms in agricultural lands. The aim of our research has been to provide an overview of the changes in the distribution of the endogeic species Octalasion cyaneum in Estonia.

Mustard solution as a vermifuge and the hand sorting method were used for collecting the earthworms. The collected earthworms were counted and identified; the mean number of individuals in 1 m2 of the soil surface and the standard error (SE) were calculated for each studied area.

The endogeic species O. cyaneum was found in Tallinn Botanic Garden (north Estonia) in Estonia for the first time in 1993. From that time, there have been many changes in the distribution of this species over the past 10 years. A few individuals of O. cyaneum were found in two areas in north-Estonia (Padina, Kuusiku) in 2003. The increase in the number of O. cyaneum in the earthworm community in Kuusiku Experimental Centre was evident in 2004-2008. The fourth place where O. cyaneum was recorded in 2008 was in the soil of natural grassland in west-Estonia (Vigala). It can be concluded that the species O. cyaneum is slowly expanding in the Estonian territory, mostly in north- and west-Estonian clay soils.
[oral presentation]


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Taxonomic study of earthworms from the western parts of Iran


School of Biology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Our knowledge of the Lumbricidae fauna is still very limited in some parts of Iran, particularly in the western regions. During the course of this study, approximately 60 specimens were collected from 10 stations in different parts of Chahar Mahal Va Bakhteyari province. They were collected along rivers, in forests, under stones, and in other wet soil habitats during the years 2007 and 2008. All collected species belong to five genera of family Lumbricidae. They represent new records for the studied area but not for Iran. These are namely: Aporrectodea caliginosa, A. jassyensis, A. rosea, Dendrobaena byblica complex, D. hortensis, D. veneta, Eisenia fetida, Eiseniella tetraedra, and Helodrilus patriarchalis.

Key words: Earthworm, Lumbricidae, Iran, Chahar Mahal Va Bakhteyarie province


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Earthworms of the Central Alborz Mountains, Iran


School of Biology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

In this short review, the knowledge about earthworms of Iran is updated. Species richness of earthworms in the Central Alborz Mountains was studied for the first time. Specimens were collected by hand sorting method (this method involves digging up soil samples and sorting of these by hands) and by a chemical method (applied was 15 liters of 2% formalin solution per 1 m2 of soil). In this study earthworm samples were collected from 37 different localities distributed along the Haraz and Chaloos Rivers in the Central Alborz Mountains. Species identification was confirmed at the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest. Twelve earthworm species were identified representing seven genera from family Lumbricidae. The species richness is not equally distributed in the genera. From the most speciose genus, Dendrobaena, four species were recorded. All collected species were deposited in the Zoological Museum, University of Tehran.

The recorded species were: Aporrectodea caliginosa, A. rosea, A. jassyensis, Dendrobaena byblica complex, D. octaedra, D. hortensis, D. veneta, Dendrodrilus rubidus, Eisenia fetida, Eiseniella tetraedra, Octolasion lacteum, Perelia kaznakovi. All the recorded species were common and Eiseniella tetraedra was the dominant species in both studied areas.


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Distribution of Anatolian endemic species in Turkey


Eskişehir Osmangazi Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Biyoloji Bölümü, 26480 Eskişehir, Turkey, e-mail:

The summary of past and present faunistic studies on the Turkish earthworm fauna provides interesting results. So far, 75 earthworm species were acknowledged for Turkey. Out of them five species (7%) belong to the introduced families Criodrilidae, Megascolecidae and Acanthodrilidae, and 70 species (93%) are from the autochthonous family Lumbricidae. Twenty-seven lumbricid earthworms (39%) are regarded as Anatolian endemics, i.e., their occurences are limited to the Anatolian region in Turkey. As expected, the endemism is not distributed equally all over Anatolia. The level of species endemism is decreasing from northern Anatolia (16 species, 23%), through the Anatolian part of the Marmara region (eight species, 11%), Inner Anatolia (five species, 7%), the Mediterranean region (four species, 6%), the Aegean and the eastern Anatolia regions (two species each, 3% each) up to south-east Anatolia and the Thracian part of the Marmara region (no endemic species recorded). However, some of the mentioned endemic species might have wider distributions. A more detailed investigation is needed.

Plate tectonics may certainly play an important role in the observed differences in species distribution. In overall, the ecological factors might be more important for explaining the present-day earthworm distribution patterns than tectonics because almost all regions of Anatolia had different climatic conditions and different types of vegetation.


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Earthworms of the Azarbaijan and Ardabil Provinces in Iran


1Animal Biosystematics, Department of Animal Biology, University College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.
2Department of Animal Biology, University College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

e-mail (first author):

The first ever earthworm survey in the Azarbaijan and Ardabil Provinces in Iran was done from August to November 2008 at 21  sampling sites. Samples were collected by digging of soil and by pouring of 4℅ formalin solution on the soil surface. The earthworm specimens were firstly transferred to 75℅ ethanol, after 24 hours they were preserved in 4℅ formalin for a few days, and then permanently fixed in 75℅ ethanol. Identification was carried out by using external and internal diagnostic characters as described in the book "Earthworms of Hungary". The nine identified species represent six genera of family Lumbricidea. The dominant species in both areas are Aporrectodea rosea and Ap. caliginosa. Other recorded species are: Aporrectodea longa, Ap. jassyensis, Ap. rosea, Ap. caliginosa, Dendrobanea veneta, Dendrodrilus rubidus, Eisiena fetida, Eisienella tetradera, and Octolasion lacteum. Discussed is the geographical distribution of species according to latitude and according to habitat types.


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Diversity of earthworms in Kerala, India.


Mar Ivanios College, Department of Zoology, Thiruvananthapuram, India

(in preparation)
[oral presentation]


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Earthworms ecological demography in two palm groves situated at Oued Righ in the Saharian area of Touggourt


1Laboratoire d'Écologie, Faculté des Sciences de la Nature et de la Vie (Ecological Laboratory, Faculty of Nature and life science), Université de Constantine, 25000, Algérie, e–mail:

2Laboratoire de Mathématiques appliquées et Modélisation, (Modelling and Applied Mathematics Laboratory), Université de Constantine, 25000, Algérie, e–mail:

Both the ecological demography study of the earthworms population at "Oued Righ" a place located in the Sahara in the area of Touggourt — Wilaya of Ouargla —  and their ecology enabled us to reveal the presence of earthworms which was unknown until nowadays.

Two palm groves were selected for the study: Maggarine and Zaouia El Abidia at Oued Righ (Touggourt). We took out 45 samples from each place. We determined the physical and chemical parameters of the soil, the earthworms density and biomass, the percentage of plant cover as well as the biomass of the herbaceous stratum.

The obtained results show: a silty texture, a low moisture, a mean porosity, neutral pH, a weak salinity, a weak limestone level, a mean CEC and a well decayed organic matter. Furthermore, the taxonomic study has revealed the presence of two earthworms species Aporrectodea caliginosa and Ap. rosea. The average earthworm density is of 600 ind/m2 and their biomass is of 92 g/m2. The more or less homogeneous plant cover is predominated by date palms. The mean plant cover is of 35% and the plant biomass of the herbaceous stratum is of 517 g/m2. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed important variabilities between the two palm groves since the measured parameters and their soils are very heterogeneous.


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Biodiversity in the soil: earthworms in the Middle East


1Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel, e-mail:
2Eskişehir Osmangazi Üniversitesi Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi Biyoloji Bölümü, 26480 Eskişehir, Turkey, e-mail:
3Systematic Zoology Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Hungarian Natural History Museum, H-1088 Budapest, Baross Str. 13., Hungary, e-mail:

Eighty-one species and 85 species and subspecies of earthworms are known from Turkey, Iran and the Levant including Cyprus. They belong to the autochthonous Palearctic families Lumbricidae and ?Criodrilidae, and furthermore to the introduced families Acanthodrilidae, Megascolecidae and Ocnerodrilidae. In the Middle East (ME), the archaic genus Spermophorodrilus of the presumed Maastrichtian origin and the ancient genera Cernosvitovia and Eophila are limited to the Pondites. However, evolutionary advanced genera, such as Dendrobaena and Perelia, are widely spread. In the ME 16-17 species (20-21%) have been introduced and the rest (64-65 species) are autochthonous ones, from which 37 species (57-58%) are endemic. The high level of endemism is confined to the following originally separated tectonic plates: the Levant, the Pondites, the Sakarya continent, Kırşehir and the East Taurus Blocks. The unexpectedly rich earthworm fauna in Cyprus is probably the result of the unique colonization event during the Messinian Salinity Crisis Period.

Adaptive radiation resulting in endemism has been observed mainly in the originally arboreal genera Dendrobaena, Eophila and Healyella whose developed ability to dig into compact soils and colonize deeper soils layers was presumably a reaction to the progressively increasing aridization.

[oral presentation]


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A review of the South African endemic Proandricus lesothoensis species-group (Oligochaeta: Microchaetidae)


Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg 3200, South Africa;
School of Biological & Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa
e-mail: or

Nine species of fifty-four endemic South African proandric microchaetids accredited to the Proandricus lesothoensis species-group are studied. The group is characterized by the location of their spermathecal pores in the testis furrow (10/11) with additional pores anterior to testis segment (9, or 9/10, or 9 and 9/10). These species reveal also some differences in the arrangement of setae. Although noted distribution of studied species point to limited part of Drakensberg mountain range, the list of the known species is almost certainly incomplete.

The aim of this paper is to produce available data and stimulate the collection of new material and its deeper study.
[oral presentation]


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Remarks on the status of the Madagascarian earthworm taxon Kynotus Michaelsen, 1891


1Institute of Zoology, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany and Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, Germany, e-mail:
2Systematic Zoology Research Group of HAS and Department of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary, e-mail:
3Animal Biology Department, Faculty of Sciences, University of Antananarivo, Madagascar, e-mail:
4Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UR 179 SeqBio, Montpellier, France, e-mail:

The earthworm fauna of Madagascar, similarly to the other animal groups, is quite peculiar and highly endemic. Apart from the introduced megascolecids, benhamiins and the native acanthodrilids (Howascolex and allies) the earthworm fauna is dominated by a remarkable native group, namely the kynotids.

The first kynotid species was reported by a German zoologist and traveller Prof. Konrad Keller under the name Geophagus darwini in 1887. As the genus name was preoccupied by the cichlid fish Geophagus Heckel, 1840, Mihaelsen proposed a replacement name Kynotus Michaelsen, 1891 to accommodate Keller’s darwini and several others, newly described species. Since then the number of described Kynotus species reached as many as 16 including two synonymous names.

The relationships of this endemic Madagascarian genus have always been controversial. First, Michaelsen in 1891 placed it close to Glossoscolecidae, later in the family Lumbricidae (Michaelsen 1897). In the Oligochaeta monograph Michaelsen (1900) classified Kynotus again in the family Glossoscolecidae as a genus of the South African subfamily Microchaetinae. Subsequently Jamieson (1971) regarded Kynotus as a subfamily of Glossoscolecidae together with Hormogastrinae, Biwadrilinae, Sparganophilinae, Alminae and Glossoscolecinae. Recently Jamieson (1988) classified Kynotus in the family Kynotidae among the “aquamegadrili” cohort.

In the present work we summarize the anatomy of the Kynotus species and on both, morphology and molecular data try to find a place for them among the Crassiclitellata taxa.
[oral presentation]


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Identification of Oligochaeta species in the Sari Township, Northern Iran, 2007-2008


1Azad Eslami University, Ashtian, Iran, e-mail:
2Mazandaran Medical Sciences University, Sari, Iran, e-mail:
3Payame Noor University,Tehran, Iran, e-mail:
4Mazandaran Medical Sciences University, Sari, Iran, e-mail:
5Mazandaran Medical Sciences University, Sari, Iran, e-mail:

Oligochaeta with 3100 known species are members of the phylum Annelida. Importance of oligochaeta is ever-increasing because scientific investigations showed their positive functional role on soil reformation, compost production, forest conservation, sewage sludge stabilization and so on. The aim of the presented study was to identify oligochaeta species gathered from geographic regions of the Sari township.

Samples were fixed in formaldehyde and alcohol solutions in several stages and after identification placed into formalin tubes (5%). Statistical analyses were conducted by means of SPSS program and by employing statistical tests (Chi Square, ANOVA). From 644 gathered specimens, 345 were adults possible to identify.

The following five species were identified: Eisenia fetida, Dendrobaena byblica, Allolobophora caliginosa, Allolobophora kaznakovi and Allolobophora jassyensis. Interspecific statistical significance (p<0.05) was reached in body weight, body length and number of segments. Allolobophora caliginosa was heaviest, longest and possessed the highest number of segments. This study also showed that the most dominant species in the Sari township with 34.8% amplitude(120 specimens) was Eisenia fetida.


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Morpho-ecological forms of Dendrobaena schmidti Мichaelsen, 1907 (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) of the North Caucasus


The Institute of Ecology of Mountain Territories, Kabardino-Balkarian Scientific Centre, Russian Academy of Science, Nalchik, Russia, e-mail:

Dendrobaena schmidti Мichaelsen, 1907 a crimean-caucasian endemic species is common in the Caucasus. This species is widely abundant in altitudes ranging from the steppe zone to the subalpine one. As a matter of fact, D. schmidti is the only species of earthworms we found in the alpine zone of the central part of the Northern Caucasus. The variations in size and coloration of the body, as well as the number of seminal vesicles were observed and contrasted with the different species races which are showing significant differences in ecology. The morphometric analysis of 326 specimens of D. schmidti, done by means of the statistical program «Statistica-6», give us an opportunity to identify the main morphological features of the three morpho-ecological groups of species. Results showed that anecic, epigeic and endogeic morpho-ecological forms of D. schmidti, resulting from the wide adaptive radiation of species, are different in size and shape of the body, as well as in the presence and patterns of pigmentation. These differences are related with the depth and stratification of the soil profile and with the corresponding food preferences of each of the above mentioned forms. Morphological polymorphism of D. schmidti can be explained by the genetic heterogeneity at the population level. Different ploids may populate various ecological niches within the same biotope especially in mountain localities where they are exposed to a broad range of environmental conditions.


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Earthworm communities in forest monocultures. Siemianice common garden experiment.


1Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, ul. Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Kraków, Poland, e-mail:

The study was conducted in Siemianice, central Poland. In 1970-71 53 study plots were established (20 x 20 m) by clear-cutting of an 81-year-old pine forest, and planted as monocultures of 14 tree species: Abies alba, Acer pseudoplatanus, Acer platanoides, Betula pendula, Carpinus betulus, Fagus silvatica, Larix decidua, Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris, Quercus robur, Tilia cordata, Pinus nigra, Quercus rubra, Pseudotsuga menziesii, 3 or 6 repetitions for each. During 34 years of monoculture growth, the soil chemical conditions, ground flora composition and litter decomposition rates differentiated strongly between some trees species.

In October 2008 earthworm communities were checked in selected tree monocultures: Quercus robur, Larix decidua (every monoculture in 6 repetitions), Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris, Tilia cordata (every monoculture in 3 repetitions). On every sampling occasion and on every study plot earthworms were sampled by using mustard method from area of 0.5m2. Species composition in studied monocultures was poor. There were found only three earthworm species: Lumbricus terrestris, Dendrobaena octaedra and Dendrodrilus rubidus.

Species composition, density and biomass in monocultures in relation with tree species, plant cover and soil conditions are discussed.
[oral presentation]


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Earthworm communities and soil structure in alluvial river ecosystems


University of Neuchâtel, Laboratory Soil & Vegetation, Emile Argand 11, CP158, CH-2009 Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Floodplains are known to be areas harbouring an extraordinary biodiversity characterized by a mosaic of shifting habitats with high interdependency. Nowadays, these ecosystems are subject to conservation and protection. Switzerland has established an inventory of its 227 best alluvial zones and pro-glacial areas that represents 0,55% of its territorial area.

Regarding pedology, floodplains contain a wide pattern of all steps of soil evolution, i.e. from a new sediment deposition to stable soils after several hundred years. However, less attention has been paid in this context to pedogenic processes, especially the very first steps of soil structuring in the youngest and the least developed soils. In this context, we investigated the role of the soil fauna on the processes and the mechanisms of soil structuring. Focus was made on earthworms that are known to affect soil physical properties through their casting and burrowing activities and thus contribute to soil-forming mechanisms.

One of our main hypotheses assumed that earthworm communities and pedogenic processes vary:
i) according to the altitude, from the subalpine level to the hill level, in relation to climatic, flood and edaphic parameters and,
ii) depending on the spatial distribution of the units of vegetation, which followed a transverse dimension from the main channel to the adjacent riparian system.

First results present the ecological groups of earthworms collected from floodplains at the subalpine level (1400 m asl, the Kander River), mountain level (750 m asl, the Sarine River) and the hill level (350 m asl, the Aare River). The diversity, abundance and biomass of earthworms are shown relative to the vegetation unit, especially willow and ash forests. Preliminary relationships with the soil profiles and the soil structure are discussed.


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A discussion on the relationship between Darwin's study of earthworms, his theory of evolution and his personal struggles (to mark the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his most important work, ‘On the Origin of Species’)


The Natural History Museum, Zoology Department, Invertebrates 2, London, United Kingdom, e-mail:

As this year marks the 150th Anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin is everywhere. Every week there are programmes on Television, articles in the newspapers and features in magazines. His work is being extolled, and even in our Museum, his statue has been moved. He has finally taken centre stage on the main staircase in place of our first Director Richard Owen. As Earthworm workers (albeit Taxonomists rather than Ecologists) it was felt we too should think about the man who first brought the humble earthworm to the attention of the masses.

This talk will investigate Darwin’s contribution to Science, but in particular his contribution to our knowledge of earthworms and how relevant it still is today. I will also assess some of the popular science pieces on Darwin and Earthworms and ascertain what drove Darwin to choose Earthworms, as the topic of his last major works.
[oral presentation]


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Hot-spot regions of earthworms in western Uttar-Pradesh, India


Vermiculture and Environmental Research Laboratory, Department of Animal Science, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Rohilkhand University, Bareilly-243006 (U.P.), India, e-mail:

The study was conducted in agricultural lands of western Uttar Pradesh state of India from 2006 to 2008 in three different seasons to identify hot-spot regions of the earthworms. Seven species of earthworms’ viz., Metaphire posthuma (Vaill.), Megascolex mauritii (Kinb.), Perionyx excavatus (Perr.), Eutyphoeus waltoni (Mich.), E. gigas (Steph.), E. paivai (Mich.) and E. pharpingianus (Mich.), belonging to four genera of Megascolecidae family were identified.

During rainy season, the maximum density of earthworms was recorded in Bareilly region and the minimum in Meerut; while their diversity was observed more in Agra region and less in Saharanpur. Density and species diversity of worms was counted the maximum in Bareilly region and the minimum density in Saharanpur during peak winter months. However, least diversity of worms was found in three regions (Agra, Meerut and Saharanpur) of the state during the season. In summers, both density and diversity of earthworms were higher in Bareilly region but their density was less in Saharanpur. Interestingly, least diversity of earthworms was noticed in Moradabad and Meerut — two regions of western state with three different species.

Results of the taxonomic work indicated that Bareilly region of the western Uttar Pradesh state was a hot-spot for the maximum density of earthworms in all the seasons of the year; while Agra region was a hot-spot to have worm’s maximum diversity during rainy season. Variations in density and diversity of worms in different regions were also discussed.
[oral presentation]


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Histological study of the earthworm Octodrillus complanatus and collagen distribution in its tissues


1NAGREF. Soil Science Institute of Athens, Athens, Greece, e-mail:
2National and Κapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Biology Department of Cell Biology and Biophysics, e-mail:
3Agriculture University of Athens, Laboratory of Agronomy, Athens, Greece, e-mail:

The earthworm Octodrillus complanatus (Lumbricidae) is a relatively large earthworm species widespread throughout the Hellenic territory and beyond. This species could be used as a bioindicator in ecotoxicological testing. According to previous studies the collagen of this earthworm is similar to the vertebrate and mammalian one. The main objective of the project was the histological description of O. complanatus and determination of the collagen distribution in its tissues. The histological study was carried out by means of the hematoxylin-eosin staining in paraffin sections. The distribution of collagen was examined by histochemical techniques: CAB and Trichrom masson. The paraffin sections were examined by a light microscope after staining and the internal organs of the earthworm (alimentary canal, nervous, excretory, circulatory and reproductive systems) were described.

According to the above results and according to the histological examination of the cuticle of the earthworm and the connective tissue of its internal organs, most of the collagen was detected in the cuticle, in the muscles under the epidermis and in the nervous system.


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Littoral Oligochaeta (Lumbriculidae and Enchytraeidae) communities of some mountain lakes on Eastern Black Sea range (Turkey)


Ege University, Fisheries Faculty Section of Limnology, 35100 Bornova Izmir, Turkey, e-mail:

Our knowledge of the Oligochaeta fauna is still very limited in some parts of Turkey, particularly in the mountain ranges.

Eastern Black Sea Mountains range is rising above along the Black Sea coast in North Eastern Turkey. With highest peak Kaçkar Dağı (elevation 3937 metres), and mountain plateaus at about 3000 metres in elevation, are the highest parts of Eastern Black Sea Range. The Kaçkars are glaciated mountains, alpine in character, with steep rocky peaks and numerous mountain lakes. Extensive glacier and water erosion have given these mountains their craggy, rugged look and they are known for the complexity and power of the streams and rivers which rush down to the lower altitudes. In fact, this range is the third most important glacial region in Turkey following the Ağrı and Cilo-Sat mountains.

Six expeditions were carried out during July and August 2005 – 2007 in order to determine the oligochaeta fauna of high altitude lakes located at Eastern Black Sea Range. Some physico-chemical features and oligochaeta fauna of 39 lakes were determined for the first time, where no previous faunistic studies exist. The oligochaeta specimens were collected from littoral zone of the lakes by hand-net with a mesh size of 180µm and then fixed in 4% formaldehyde solution.

As a result of the study, a total of 10 taxa was determined, comprising three species from Lumbriculidae [(Stylodrilus parvus (Hrabe & Cernosvitov,1927), Stylodrilus heringianus Claparede,1862, Lumbriculus variegatus (Müller, 1774)], seven taxa from Enchytraeidae [(Cognettia sphagnetorum (Vejdovsky, 1878), Cognettia glandulosa (Michaelsen,1889), Mesenchytraeus armatus (Levinsen,1884), Mesenchytraeus sp., Henlea ventriculosa (d’Udekem, 1854), Henlea perpusilla Friend, 1911, Henlea sp.)]. All the taxa are new records for the region and Stylodrilus heringianus Claparede, 1862 is a new record to Turkey.

Keywords: Lumbriculidae, Enchytraeidae, Fauna, Eastern Black Sea Range, Turkey.
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Diversity and distribution of earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in native soils of the Kola North


Institute of the North Industrial Ecology Problems, Kola Science Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Apatity, Russia

(in preparation)
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N.B. — The Book of Abstracts will be availabe as a hardcopy shortly before the beginning of the meeting