Global diversity of free living flatworms (Platyhelminthes, “Turbellaria”) in freshwater

  • Ernest R. SchockaertEmail author
  • Matthew Hooge
  • Ronald Sluys
  • Steve Schilling
  • Seth Tyler
  • Tom Artois
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 198)


This contribution reviews diversity of turbellarian species by biogeographical regions, with comments on species biology. The review draws on the database available at Comparisons between regions suggest that species richness may be at least one order of magnitude higher than the currently reported number of species. In the context of the recent reconstructions of phylogeny of Platyhelminthes based on molecular data, the paper allows inferences as to the history of colonization of freshwaters by turbellarians. Specifically, four, or perhaps six, major invasions of freshwater habitats may have occurred in the Pangean period, each of which gave rise to a monophyletic freshwater taxon. In addition, several occasional invasions by representatives of marine taxa must have taken place.


Platyhelminthes Freshwater Distribution Phylogeny History 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Artois, T., W. Willems, E. De Roeck, M. Jocqué & L. Brendonck, 2004. Freshwater Rhabdocoela (Platyhelminthes) from ephemeral rock pools from Botswana, with the description of four new species and one new genus. Zoological Science 21:1063–1072.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baguna, J., S. Caranza, J. Papas, I. Ruiz-Trillo & M. Riutort, 2001. Molecular taxonomy and phylogeny of the Tricladida. In Littlewood, D. T. J. & R. A. Bray (eds), Interrelationships of the Platyhelminthes. Taylor & Francis, London, 49–56.Google Scholar
  3. Bertrand, Y., F. Pleijel & G. W. Rouse, 2006. Taxonomic surrogacy in biodiversity assessments, and the meaning of Linnaean ranks. Systematics and Biodiversity 4(2):149–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cannon, L. R. G., 1986. Turbellaria of the World: a Guide to Families and Genera. Queensland Museum, Brisbane, 131.Google Scholar
  5. Cannon, L. R. G. & B. I. Joffe, 2001. The Temnocephalida. In Littlewood, D. T. J. & R. A. Bray (eds), Interrelationships of the Platyhelminthes. Taylor & Francis, London, 83–91.Google Scholar
  6. Damborenea, M. C. & L. R. G. Cannon, 2001. On neotropical Temnocephala (Platyhelminthes). Journal of Natural History 35: 1103–1118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ehlers, U., 1985. Das Phylogenetische Systemder Plathelminthes. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, New York, p 317.Google Scholar
  8. Joffe, B. I. & E. E. Kornakova, 2001. Flatworm phylogeneticist: between molecular hammer and morphological anvil. In Littlewood, D. T. J. & R. A. Bray (eds), Interrelationships of the Platyhelminthes. Taylor & Francis, London, 279–291.Google Scholar
  9. Kawakatsu, M., 1991. History of the study of Turbellaria in Japan. Hydrobiologia 227: 389–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kenk, R., 1989. Revised list of the North American freshwater planarians (Platyhelminthes: Tricladida: Paludicola). Smithsonian contributions. Zoology 476, 10.Google Scholar
  11. Kolasa, J., 2000. The biology and ecology of lotic microturbellarians. Freshwater Biology 44: 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Marcus, E., 1955. Turbellaria. In Hanström, B., P. Brinck & G. Rudebeck (eds), South African Animal Life-Results of the Lund University Expedition in 1950-1951, vol. I. Almqvist & Wiksell, Stockholm, 101–151.Google Scholar
  13. Marcus, E., 1958. On South American Turbellaria. Anais dal Academia Brasileira de Ciencas 30: 391–417.Google Scholar
  14. Norén, M. & U. Jondelius, 2002. The phylogenetic position of the Prolecitophora (Rhabditophora, ‘Platyhelminthes’). Zoologica Scripta 31: 403–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Norena, C., C. Damborenea & F. Brusa, 2005. New freshwater interstitial Otoplanidae (Plathelminthes: Proseriata) from the Parana and Uruguay rivers, South America. Journal of Natural History 39: 1457–1468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ruiz-Trillo, I., M. Riutort, M. Fourcade, J. Baguña & J. L. Boore, 2004. Mitochondrial genome data support the basal position of Acoelomorpha and the polyphyly of the Platyhelminthes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33: 321–332.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schockaert, E. R., 1996. Turbellarians. In: Hall, G. S. (ed.), Methods for the Examiniation of Organismal Diversity in Soils and Sediments. CAB International, 211–225.Google Scholar
  18. Sewell, K. B. & L. R. G. Cannon, 1998. New temnocephalans from the branchial chamber of Australian Euastacus and Cherax crayfish hosts. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 119: 21–36.Google Scholar
  19. Sluys, R. & M. Kawakatsu, 2001. Contribution to an inventory of the freshwater planarians of Australia and New Zealand (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, Dugesiidae), with distribution maps of the species examined. Beaufortia 51:163–198.Google Scholar
  20. Sluys, R., M. Kawakatsu & R. Ponce de León, 2005. Morphological stasis in an old and widespread group of species: contribution to the taxonomy and biogeography of the genus Girardia (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, Paludicola). Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment 40: 155–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Timoshkin, O. A., (ed.), 2004. Index of Animal Species Inhabiting Lake Baikal and its Catchment Area, Vol. I, Book 2, Novosibirsk. Russian Academy of Sciences, Nauka, 1344–1491.Google Scholar
  22. Tyler, S., S. Schilling, M. Hooge & L. F. Bush (comp.), 2005. Turbellarian taxonomic database. Version 1.4 Scholar
  23. Willems, W. R., A. Walberg, U. Jondelius, D. T. J. Littlewood, T. Backeljau, E. R. Schockaert & T. J. Artois, 2006. Filling a gap in the phylogeny of flatworms: relationships within the Rhabdocoela (Platyhelminthes), inferred from 18S ribosomal DNA sequences. Zoologica Scripta 35:1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Young, J. O., 1976. The freshwater Turbellaria of the African continent. Zoologischer Anzeiger 197: 419–432.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernest R. Schockaert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew Hooge
    • 2
  • Ronald Sluys
    • 3
  • Steve Schilling
    • 2
  • Seth Tyler
    • 2
  • Tom Artois
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Environmental SciencesHasselt UniversityDiepenbeekBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics & Zoological MuseumUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations