Colonization and extinction of land planarians (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida) in a Brazilian Atlantic Forest regrowth remnant
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Long-term assessments of species assemblages are valuable tools for detecting species ecological preferences and their dispersal tracks, as well as for assessing the possible effects of alien species on native communities. Here we report a 50-year-long study on population dynamics of the four species of land flatworms (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, Terricola) that have colonized or become extinct in a 70-year-old Atlantic Forest regrowth remnant through the period 1955–2006. On the one hand, the two initially most abundant species, which are native to the study site, Notogynaphallia ernesti and Geoplana multicolor have declined over decades and at present do not exist in the forest remnant. The extinction of these species is most likely related with their preference for open vegetation areas, which presently do not exist in the forest remnant. On the other hand, the neotropical Geoplaninae 1 and the exotic Endeavouria septemlineata were detected in the forest only very recently. The long-term study allowed us to conclude that Geoplaninae 1 was introduced into the study area, although it is only known from the study site. Endeavouria septemlineata, an active predator of the exotic giant African snail, is originally known from Hawaii. This land flatworm species was observed repeatedly in Brazilian anthropogenic areas, and this is the first report of the species in relatively well preserved native forest, which may be evidence of an ongoing adaptive process. Monitoring of its geographic spread and its ecological role would be a good practice for preventing potential damaging effects, since it also feeds on native mollusk fauna, as we observed in lab conditions.
KeywordsFree-living terrestrial flatworms Neotropical Native Introduced and exotic species Invasion Urban forest
We thank W. Mantovani (USP) for the description of the vegetation in the study area; J. S. Morgante (USP) for the sampling license in the Forest Reserve; M. T. Rodrigues (USP) for facilities to use the histological laboratory; CNPq for the research grant PIBIC provided to JP; and J. Grau and J. Hesson for English revision of the manuscript.
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