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Earthworms of Western Ghats, India E-mail
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Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Earthworms of Western Ghats, India


٭P.Kathireswari., ٭٭J.M.Julka and ٭R.Jeyaraaj

٭ P.G and Research Dept of Biotechnology, KSR College of Arts and ScienceThokovadi (PO),Tiruchengode- 637 209,Tamil Nadu, India. E-mail This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

٭٭ Emeritus Scientist, Zoological Survey of India, Solan, Himachal Pradesh, India. E-mail This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it  

Lying between 8º and 21º N latitudes, the Western Ghats, a global ‘hottest’ biodiversity ‘hotspot’ are a chain of mountains running along the western edge of the Indian subcontinent, and support one of the major Tropical Evergreen regions in India with exceptional biodiversity and conservation interest. They cover an estimated area of about 160,000 km² and stretch for about 1,600 km from river Tapti south to the southern tip of the peninsula, interrupted only by the 30 kilometers Palghat Gap at around 11º N. The present studies are aimed at assessing earthworm diversity in a region north of Palghat Gap (close to Nilgiri Hills), which is increasingly affected by the human activity. The study sites include a natural forest, an agro-ecosystem and a polluted area in Coimbatore Forest Division, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu, India

As a result, 40 species of earthworms from different habitats are recorded. Their family wise composition is: 13 species of the Megascolecidae, 10 species of the Moniligastridae, 5 species of the Octochaetidae, 4 species each of the Lumbricidae and Ocnerodrilidae, one species each of the Acanthodrilidae, Almidae, Eudrilidae and Glossoscolecidae. Of these, 22 species are the natives (including Drawida sp. nov. and Megascolex sp. nov.; to be described somewhere else) of the Indian subcontinent, and the remaining are well known peregrine species of extra Indian origin.

In the natural forest, 18 native and 10 exotic species are found. Native species are represented by Drawida caenosa, D. grandis, D. impertusa, D. modesta, D. pellucida pallida, D. sulcata, Drawida sp. nov., Glyphidrilus annandalei, Lampito mauritii, Malabaria biprostata, Megascolex cochinensis, M. filiciseta, M. insignis, Megascolex sp. nov., ? Argilophilus variabilis, Perionyx ceylanensis, P. excavatus, and sansibaricus, whereas exotics belong to Amynthas corticis, Allolobophora parva, Dendrodrilus rubidus, Eisenia fetida, Dichogaster bolaui, D. modiglianii, Eukerria kukenthali, Gordiodrilus elegans, Octolasion tyrtaeum, Pontoscolex corethrurus respectively.

Agro-ecosystems harbour low earthworm diversity in comparison to natural forests but have high proportion of exotic species; 6 native (Drawida aculeata, D. grandis, D. lennora, D. scandens, Megascolex konkanensis, Lampito mauritii), and 12 exotic species (Amynthas corticis, Dichogaster affinis, D. annae, D. bolaui, D. saliens Gordiodrilus elegans, Metaphire houlleti, Polyphretima elongata, P. taprobanae, Pontoscolex corethrurus, Ocnerodrilus occidentalis and Eudrilus eugeniae). In polluted area only one native peregrine species Lampito mauritii and 2 exotic species namely Dichogaster affinis and D. bolaui are found.

Macro and micronutrients of the soil have also been analysed and are discussed in relation to occurrence of earthworms in different habitats. This study indicates that the land use pattern is more severely reflected on biodiversity of earthworms.


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