Earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in the Tundra of Eastern Europe


It has been established that three earthworm species inhabit tundra landscapes of Eastern Europe: the Eastern European–Siberian Eisenia n. nordenskioldi, cosmopolitan Lumbricus rubellus (sporadic occurrences near the forest edge), and cosmopolitan Dendrobaena octaedra. In the Palaearctic zonal tundra, D. octaedra does not occur east of Tazovskii Peninsula, while E. n. nordenskioldi was not found west of Pechora Bay. The two species coexist in the Arctic only in Nenets and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous okrugs. New earthworm records in the northern part of Eastern Europe have been reported. The significant habitat plasticity of D. octaedra and E. n. nordenskioldi in tundra landscapes is demonstrated. It is found that the cold-resistant soil-litter E. n. nordenskioldi prefers open habitats (dwarf shrub tundras, meadows, and marshes), while the less cold-tolerant (in the worm phase) litter D. octaedra is more abundant under the shrub or crooked forest canopy, possibly, because of the milder wintering conditions there (i.e., the presence of leaf litter and snow retention). It is suggested that the habitat area of E. n. nordenskioldi in Eastern Europe was much larger during the last glacial epoch.

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The research studies of B.R. Striganova dedicated to earthworms have maintained the interest of domestic scientists in this group of soil animals for many years. During the processing of the materials, we received many helpful recommendations from T.S. Perel, D.I. Berman, A.B. Babenko, A.N. Leirikh, A.P. Geraskina, I.B. Rapoport, A.V. Tiunov, and A.G. Viktorov. The following people were involved in the organization of the field studies: I.A. Lavrinenko, O.V. Lavrinenko, M.S. Bizin, S.A. Zolotoi, S.A. Uvarov, and T.M. Romanenko. A.A. Kudrin, T.N. Konakova, A.A. Nekhaeva, S.B. Rozenfeld, V.M. Spitsyn, S.P. Kharitonov, and Z.A. Yanchenko provided to us their earthworm collections. K.V. Makarov produced the illustrations. We thank all the above-mentioned colleagues and two anonymous reviewers.


This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project no. 17-04-01603, in the framework of the Program “Biodiversity and Natural Resources of Russia” of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a state-funded topic of the research studies of the Animal Ecology Department, Institute of Biology, Komi Science Center, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, no. AAAA-A17-117112850235-2.

The NAO 2015 Expedition was conducted within the framework of the Project “Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into Russia’s Energy Sector Policies and Operations” jointly implemented by UNDP/GEF and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation.

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Makarova, O.L., Kolesnikova, A.A. Earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in the Tundra of Eastern Europe. Biol Bull Russ Acad Sci 46, 438–449 (2019).

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