[Annelida] Earthworms predators

robblakemore At bigpond.com via annelida%40net.bio.net (by robblakemore At bigpond.com)
Wed Dec 13 11:12:49 EST 2006

There are reports of birds (by Darwin, 1881) and wood turtles using stamping  bahaviour to
dislodge earthworm prey.  Here is a section from my "Cosmopolitan  Earthworms" CD:

"Predators, parasites and pathogens

	Their importance in the food-web is shown by earthworms having many  predators and
being intermediate hosts for many parasites.  Examples of predators are  humans [e.g. children,
native cultures (see Moreno & Paoletti, 2004), SAS soldiers  (Wiseman, 1995)], grizzly bears
(Matteson et al., 2002), foxes, badgers, pigs,  bandicoots, hedgehogs, shrews, otters, moles, mice,
at least one species of bat,  platypuses, echidnas, birds (including kiwis and owls eg. Haunsome et
al., 2004),  snakes, frogs, toads, salamanders, caecilids, fishes, molluscs [eg. Testacella spp.  slugs
and, in NZ, certain snails (see Murray, 2005)], insects (eg. Scolopendra  centipedes, carabid and
staphylinid beetles), ants, spiders (many species from 11  spider families reported by Nyffeler et
al., 2001), mites, leeches eg. Trocheta  subviridis in Queensland and giant predatory leeches in
Sabah and Japan, eg.  Mimobdella buettikoferi Blanchard 1897 (and Mimobdella japonica Blanchard
1897),  planarian flatworms [eg. the peregrine Australoplana sanguinea alba (Dendy, 1891) -
formerly Caenoplana alba from Australia and Tasmania; Arthurdendyus triangulatus  (Dendy, 1895)
formerly Artioposthia triangulata, from N.Z.; Bipalium kewense  Moseley, 1878 from south-east
Asia that is now widespread around the globe; and  Bipalium nobile Kawakatsu & Makino, 1982 that
is probably a Chinese native  originally described from the Imperial Palace gardens, Tokyo and that
measures up to  1m in length!], and there is even a cannibalistic earthworm, the Benhamiinae
Agastrodrilus dominicae Lavelle, 1981 recorded from West Africa.

	Reports are that that woodcock (Philohela minor Gmelin) and snakes eg.  the eastern
garter, Thamnophis sirtalis Linnaeus, prey extensively on earthworms  while  Butler Garter
Snake, Thamnophis butleri in Ontario has a diet that is 93%  earthworms (Reynolds, 1977).  North
American wood turtles (Clemmys spp.) are  known to invoke and exploit the escape response of
earthworms by stamping their  feet on the soil surface (eg. Kaufmann,1986; Kirkpatrick &
Kirkpatrick, 1996) and  predatory birds such as lapwings (Vanellus spp.) and the Peewit (Tringa
vanellus,  Linn.) also mimic the vibrations by stamping on the soil surface (Darwin, 1881: 28).   New
Zealand's flightless kiwi (Apteryx spp.) probe the soil and detects prey by smell  having nostrils on
the end of its long thin beak which it uses like a pair of chopsticks.   If a kiwi catches an
earthworm, it pulls it out in a series of smooth movements, bit by  bit, so that it doesn't break the
worm in two.  Moles are reported to bite off the heads  of captured worms to paralyse them for
storage in special chambers (Sims & Gerard,  1999: 23, 23), although I believe this may also allow
time for the worms to empty  their guts of unpalatable and abrasive soil. 

	Parasites include carnivorous flies (eg. Pollenia spp.), helminths, nematodes,  protozoans, bacteria, viruses and
fungi (eg. Thielovia terricole).  Cocoons may  sometimes be parasitized by nematodes or mites, e.g. Histiosoma murchiei
Hughes  & Jackson, 1958 can cause mortality of hatchlings and, in some countries, 45% of  Allolobophora chlorotica
cocoons are thought to be infested (Gates, 1972:73). High  infection of lumbricid cocoons with this mite were reported by
Oliver (1962) in  Michigan, U.S.A.  Earthworms are the intermediate hosts of certain parasites of  higher animals, and have
been implicated in the distribution of both pathogenic and  beneficial plant microbes... "

Hope this helps.
Rob Blakemore

On 12 Dec 2006 at 15:49, Benjamin Turquet wrote:

> Hello,
> I'm a french journalist working on a TV documentary project about
> worms. A large part of this documentary will be about earthworms; I've
> a question about them and i told to myself that maybe one of you could
> help me. Would you know which animal species have special behaviour
> related to earthworms predation? Such as animal tapping their feet to
> make the earthworm show up?
> Thanks in advance for your help
> Best regards,
> Benjamin TURQUET
> 155, rue de Charonne
> 75011 Paris
> France
> Tel (direct): +33 (0) 1 55 25 59 08
> bturquet At gedeonprogrammes.com
> _______________________________________________
> Annelida mailing list
> Post: Annelida At net.bio.net
> Help/archive: http://www.bio.net/biomail/listinfo/annelida
> Resources: http://www.annelida.net

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