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Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Chinese Earthworms


Jian Huang 1, Qin Xu 2, Zhenjun Sun 1

1 College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China;

2College of Education, Beijing

Terrestrial earthworm variously reported from China number amount to 306 species with 86 of these, or 28%, non-natives for which 64% are Asiatic Megascolecidae and 21% are Lumbricidae of Holarctic origin. All the 306 species belong to 28 genera in 9 families (1 species of 1 genera in Haplotaxidae, 20 species of 2 genera in Moniligastredae, 245 species of 7 genera in Megascolecidae, 3 species of 3 genera in Ocnerodrilldae, 5 species of 3 genera in Acanthodrilidae, 3 species of 2 genera in Octochaetidae, 2 species of 1 genera in Microchaectidae, 25 species of 8 genera in Lumbricidae and 2 species of 1 genera in Glossoscolecidae). Number of species distributed in Sichuan Province is the highest in China, amounted to 94; Taiwan is the second, amounted to 80; Hongkong, 20; Macao, 3. Reports on earthworm in Shanxi and Ningxia Provinces have not been discovered. Among of them, 59 species are new species or new records after 1992. A defineitive work, however, on the systematics of Chinese earthworm is pending, and the purpose of this paper is only to provide a status quo to track changes from the last revison by Zhong et al. (1992). Subsequently, 240 or so new pheretima names were added by Xu, Qiu and Chang et al. in 1992-2005, most of them are consided valid taxa. While some controversial species had been discussed and new affinities had been given. Amynthas asiaticua (Michaelsen, 1900) was recorded but had no detail description and no specimen, so it was regarded a possible species in China. Chen (1959) named Amynthas carnosus (Goto et al, 1898) as Pheretima pingi for it had 3 or 4 pairs of spermathecae. However, Stephenson (1925) described Pheretima pingi as a new species for it had 4 pairs of mature spermathecae. While Goto and Hatai (1899) described Pheretima carnosus for it had 3 pairs of spermathecae. As presented by the description of Goto and Hatai, the spermathecae was vestigial, in addtion, the distribution of genital papilla in the two species were completely different. That is, the two species are different species. So we separated Amynthas candidus (Goto et al, 1898) from Pheretima pingi (Stephenson, 1925). Gates named three species, Pheretima tenellula (Gates, 1932), Pheretima glabra (Gates, 1932) and Pheretima vieta (Gates, 1936). Then he combined the three specied into one species in 1972, Pheretima glabra (Gates, 1932), though they were largely different in morphological characters, especially with or without spermathecal pores, the position of papillae in male pores. We examined many specimens from Yunna Province of China by morphological characters, and some of them were wholly identical with Amynthas tenellulus. So we redivided the species into three species, Amynthas tenellulus, Amynthas glabrus and Amynthas vieta. For such uncertainties species, morphological methods and molecular (RNA, DNA) techniques will be combined to determine specific affinities.


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