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.