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Number of worms

Sam James sjames at mum.edu
Thu Oct 22 14:59:28 EST 1998

At 11:01 AM 10/22/98 +0200, Jacob van der Land wrote:
>	In an earlier reaction I estimated the number of valid species of
>annelids to be in the order of 11.000 of which 3000 are oligochaetes. In
>John Reynolds & David Cook's Nomenclatura Oligochaetologica (Supplement 3,
>1992) the number of given species names is 7254. Because more than half of
>those must be synonyms the number of 3000 valid species is not too low. Of
>those at least 600 are microdriles, mostly aquatic. Consequently the
>number of known earthworm species is lower than 2400, probably
>considerably lower but good revisions are lacking for several groups.

I assembled a computer database from Reynolds and Cook, excluding
microdriles, and have about 4300 records, one "species" or var. per record.
At this point I cannot say how many subspecific taxa are included in that
4300, and I would rather spend the time getting the new stuff published.
When some of the perichaetine megascolecidae are revised, many names will
probably be synonyms. On the other side, I have in my lab several dozen
undescribed species and I know others with examined but as yet
undescribed/unpublished material allegedly of 80 species.  Based on a very
limited collection from the Philippines, I am guessing there are over 200
species, 90% undescribed, from what little natural vegetation is left on
those islands.  Multiply that figure times the number of other
worm-uncharted tropical Asian archipelagos,Madagascar, vast areas of the
neotropics, Africa; parts of Australia, SE Asia and the USA, and the
numbers could inflate dramatically.

~  Sam James                ~
~  Dept. of Biology         ~
~  Maharishi Univ. of Mgmt. ~
~  Fairfield, IA 52557      ~
~  sjames at mum.edu           ~
~  515-472-1146             ~
~ Systematics and Ecology   ~
~ of Earthworms             ~

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