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New data and hypotheses on the invasiveness, habitat selection, and ecological role of the limicolous earthworm Sparganophilus tamesis Benham, 1892

Journal article
Authors E. Rota
S. Benelli
Christer Erséus
J. Soors
M. Bartoli
Published in Fundamental and Applied Limnology
Volume 192
Issue 2
Pages 129-136
ISSN 1863-9135
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 129-136
Language en
Keywords Freshwater oligochaetes, Invasiveness, Lobelia dortmanna, New european records, Oligotrophic habitats, Sparganophilidae, Synergism with macrophytes, Oligochaeta (Metazoa), Sparganophilus, Sparganophilus tamesis
Subject categories Freshwater ecology


A recent molecular barcode study certified the conspecificity of mutually distant European populations of the limicolous earthworm Sparganophilus tamesis Benham, 1892 with the most widespread species of Sparganophilus in North America, and that all the analysed European worms descend from a recent introduction, probably via one or more point-source events with subsequent dispersion. We present the first records from Belgium and the Atlantic coast of southern France, and further genetic evidence confirming the species’ high dispersal abilities and historical movement within and across European drainage boundaries, as well as its capacity to establish in different types of aquatic ecosystems, including oligotrophic habitats. Experimental evidence suggests that the activity of Sparganophilus combined with that of oxygen-releasing plants, such as Lobelia dortmanna, may enhance the mobilization of refractory N pools within oligotrophic sediments, and, therefore, act as facilitator for both the macrophyte and the microbial communities in the rhizosphere. © 2018 E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, Germany.

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