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Lumbricus terrestris, the common European earthworm
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Clitellata
Order: Opisthopora
Superfamily: Lumbricoidea
Family: Lumbricidae
Rafinesque-Schmaltz, 1815

See text

The Lumbricidae are a family of earthworms. About 33 lumbricid species have become naturalized around the world,[1] but the bulk of the species are in the Holarctic region: from Canada (e.g. Bimastos lawrenceae on Vancouver Island) and the United States (e.g. Eisenoides carolinensis, Eisenoides lonnbergi and most Bimastos spp.) and throughout Eurasia to Japan (e.g. Eisenia japonica, E. koreana and Helodrilus hachiojii). An enigmatic species in Tasmania is Eophila eti. Currently, 670 valid species and subspecies in about 42 genera are recognized.[2] This family includes the majority of earthworm species well known to Europeans and Asians


The family consists of the following genera:


The worms in the family Lumbricidae originate from Europe, but over time members of the family have since been introduced and spread around the globe.[4]


Members of Lumbricidae are native to Europe and are most diverse in southern Europe.[4] There are 30 species from the family in Ireland and Britain. Notably, a single mature individual of the species Prosellodrilus amplisetosus was found in a survey of soil biodiversity in Ireland. P. amplisetosis had never been recorded in Ireland before and is commonly found in France or Spain. It is thought to have been introduced by humans through agricultural supplies.[5] Another interesting case is of the species Dendrobaena attemsi in Scandinavia. They were first found in a national park in Sweden, the furthest north the species have been found. The discovery of D. attemsi implies the range of the species is increasing north.[6] It is not only in Sweden that species of Lumbricidae are expanding their range. Many of the species found in Finland are exhibiting similar increases in range[7] and Lumbricidae worms are also expanding into Northeastern Europe, starting from the near Baltic sea.[8]

A 2022 molecular phylogenetic study of the highly diverse Franco-Iberian genus Zophoscolex showed most of the Iberian species to form a distinct clade, formally described as Castellodrilus stat. nov..[3] Other species were moved to the genera Cataladrilus and Compostelandrilus, with the remaining species remaining in Zophoscolex restricted to French representatives.[3]


Lumbricidae make up the majority of earthworms found in China, despite not being native to the area.[4]

At higher elevations in India, some species of Lumbicidae can be found.[4]

North America[edit]

When European settlers came to North America, so did European earthworms like the Lumbricidae. Before this, the area in North America where glaciers had been were mostly worm-free.[9] Lumbricidae worms are known to be expanding into the Great Lakes region.[8] The introduced worms have an impact on the native species and environments. Species from the family, such as Lumbricus rubelles, are believed to have displaced the local species in a number of regions.[10] In others, Lumbricidae species outnumber the native species in terms of biomass. Despite this, they are not as productive, in terms of processing nitrogen and phosphorus, as the native species.[11] Lumbricidae worms also tend to have a higher species richness than native North American worms, though the species richness of both the native and Lumbricidae decreases with increasing latitudes.[12]

New Zealand and Australia[edit]

Similar to North America, worms from the family were introduced to New Zealand and Australia by European settlers.[13][4]


Harvestmen, especially from the genera Leiobunum and Hadrobunus, are known to consume Lumbricidae earthworms. This happens mostly in temperate regions.[14] Another species known to prey on Lumbricidae is the Bannan caecilian. Lumbricidae are an important part of its diet.[15]


  1. ^ "Contents of "Cosmopolitan Earthworms" 1st and 2nd Editions, Blakemore (2002, 2006)". VermEcology. 2008-02-12. Archived from the original on 2008-12-16.
  2. ^ "A Series of Searchable Texts on Earthworm Biodiversity, Ecology and Systematics from Various Regions of the World". YNU, COE Chapter 10: A list of valid, invalid and synonymous names of Criodriloidea and Lumbricoidea (Annelida: Oligochaeta: Criodrilidae, Sparganophilidae, Ailoscolecidae, Hormogastridae, Lumbricidae, Lutodrilidae). 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-01-05. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
  3. ^ a b c Jiménez Pinadero, Sergio; Marchán, Daniel Fernández; Novo, Marta; Trigo, Dolores; Domínguez, Jorge; Díaz Cosín, Darío J. (2022). "Sorry atlanticus, you are not my type: molecular assessment splits Zophoscolex (Lumbricidae: Crassiclitellata) into French and Iberian genera". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 194 (3): 726–735. doi:10.1093/zoolinnean/zlab011.
  4. ^ a b c d e Hendrix, Paul F.; Callaham, Mac A.; Drake, John M.; Huang, Ching-Yu; James, Sam W.; Snyder, Bruce A.; Zhang, Weixin (2008). "Pandora's Box Contained Bait: The Global Problem of Introduced Earthworms". Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. 39: 593–613. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.39.110707.173426. ISSN 1543-592X. JSTOR 30245178.
  5. ^ Keith, Aidan M.; Schmidt, Olaf (2013). "First record of the earthworm Prosellodrilus amplisetosus (Oligochaeta: Lumbricidae) outside continental Europe". The Irish Naturalists' Journal. 32 (1): 26–28. ISSN 0021-1311. JSTOR 24393865.
  6. ^ Rota, Emilia; Erséus, Christer (1997). "First record of Dendrobaena attemsi (Michaelsen) (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in Scandinavia, with a critical review of its morphological variation, taxonomic relationships and geographical range". Annales Zoologici Fennici. 34 (2): 89–104. ISSN 0003-455X. JSTOR 23735685.
  7. ^ Terhivuo, Juhani (1988). "The Finnish Lumbricidae (Oligochaeta) fauna and its formation". Annales Zoologici Fennici. 25 (3): 229–247. ISSN 0003-455X. JSTOR 23734486.
  8. ^ a b Hendrix, Paul F. (2008-09-01). Biological Invasions Belowground: Earthworms as Invasive Species. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4020-5429-7.
  9. ^ Hale, Cindy; Riech, Peter; Frelich, Lee (Jan 2004). "Allometric Equations for Estimation of Ash-Free Dry Mass from Length Measurements for Selected European Earthworm Species (Lumbricidae) in the Western Great Lakes Region" (PDF). The American Midland Naturalist. 151: 179–185. doi:10.1674/0003-0031(2004)151[0179:AEFEOA]2.0.CO;2. hdl:11299/176619. JSTOR 30245178 – via JSTOR.
  10. ^ Hopfensperger, Kristine N.; Hamilton, Sarah (2015). "Earthworm Communities in Previously Glaciated and Unglaciated Eastern Deciduous Forests". Southeastern Naturalist. 14 (1): 66–84. doi:10.1656/058.014.0106. ISSN 1528-7092. JSTOR 26454428. S2CID 84508255.
  11. ^ James, Samuel (Dec 1991). "Soil, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Organic Matter Processing by Earthworms in Tallgrass Prairie". Ecological Society of America. 72: 2101–2109 – via JSTOR.
  12. ^ Lilleskov, Erik A.; Mattson, William J.; Storer, Andrew J. (2008). "Divergent Biogeography of Native and Introduced Soil Macroinvertebrates in North America North of Mexico". Diversity and Distributions. 14 (6): 893–904. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2008.00487.x. ISSN 1366-9516. JSTOR 20172050.
  13. ^ Kim, Young-Nam; Dickinson, Nicholas; Bowie, Mike; Robinson, Brett; Boyer, Stephane (2017). "Molecular identification and distribution of native and exotic earthworms in New Zealand human-modified soils". New Zealand Journal of Ecology. 41 (2): 218–225. ISSN 0110-6465. JSTOR 26198802.
  14. ^ Nyffeler, Martin; Lapinski, Witold; Snyder, Andrew; Birkhofer, Klaus (2017). "Spiders feeding on earthworms revisited: consumption of giant earthworms in the tropics". The Journal of Arachnology. 45 (2): 242–247. doi:10.1636/JoA-17-013.1. ISSN 0161-8202. JSTOR 44510407. S2CID 90842034.
  15. ^ Ngo, Binh V.; Hoang, Nghiep T.; Ngo, Chung D. (2014). "Diet of the Bannan Caecilian Ichthyophis bannanicus (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Ichthyophiidae) in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam". Journal of Herpetology. 48 (4): 506–513. doi:10.1670/13-113. ISSN 0022-1511. JSTOR 43287479. S2CID 84992833.

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