Alan Cooper wrote:
<< I am a molecular researcher studying the break-up of Gondwana
<< and its affect on vertebrates (birds mostly) and now,
<< invertebrates. A group that appears particularly interesting
<< is the giant earthworms of the Southern continents:
<< S. America, S. Africa, NZ, Aust., Sri Lanka (and possibly
<< Madagascar?). .....
Earthworms are definitely an interesting group for biogeographical studies
but 'giant earthworms' do not form a taxonomical unit. Large earthworms
(e.g. length over 1 m) occur in several families (Glossoscolecidae,
Moniligastridae, Megascolecidae) and the genera they belong to, mostly
contain many smaller species as well.
Consequently it would be a better approach to concentrate these studies on
a certain group of earthworms with a Gondwana distribution and use species
of a normal size. There are several common species among them which are
probably easy to obtain for destructive studies while the 'giant
earthworms' are mostly rare and sometimes even protected.
J. van der Land <evert at nnm.nl>
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