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Clitellate worms (Annelida) in lateglacial and Holocene sedimentary DNA records from the Polar Urals and northern Norway

Journal article
Authors Y. Lammers
C. L. Clarke
Christer Erséus
A. G. Brown
M. E. Edwards
L. Gielly
H. Haflidason
J. Mangerud
E. Rota
J. I. Svendsen
I. G. Alsos
Published in Boreas
Volume 48
Issue 2
Pages 317-329
ISSN 0300-9483
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 317-329
Language en
Keywords environmental DNA, ancient DNA, ice, earthworms, reveals, plant, age, enchytraeids, deglaciation, lumbricidae, Physical Geography, Geology, ates of america, v113, p9310, iences, v370
Subject categories Physical Geography, Geology


While there are extensive macro- and microfossil records of a range of plants and animals from the Quaternary, earthworms and their close relatives amongst annelids are not preserved as fossils and therefore the knowledge of their past distributions is limited. This lack of fossils means that clitellate worms (Annelida) are currently underused in palaeoecological research, even though they can provide valuable information about terrestrial and aquatic environmental conditions. Their DNA might be preserved in sediments, which offers an alternative method for detection. Here we analyse lacustrine sediments from lakes in the Polar Urals, Arctic Russia, covering the period 24000-1300cal. a BP, and NE Norway, covering 10700-3300cal. a BP, using a universal mammal 16S rDNA marker. While mammals were recorded using the marker (reindeer was detected twice in the Polar Urals core at 23000 and 14000cal. a BP, and four times in the Norwegian core at 11000cal. a BP and between 3600-3300cal. a BP), worm extracellular DNA bycatch' was rather high. In this paper we present the first reported worm detection from ancient DNA. Our results demonstrate that both aquatic and terrestrial clitellates can be identified in late-Quaternary lacustrine sediments, and the ecological information retrievable from this group warrants further research with a more targeted approach.

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