- Acanthobdellida, Aphanoneura, Branchiobdellida, Hirudinea, and Oligochaeta -

Compliled by

Kathryn A. Coates and Mark J. Wetzel (co-editors),
Stuart R. Gelder, Jacqueline Madill, and John W. Reynolds

This web site established and maintained by

Mark J. Wetzel, Research Scientist, Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS),
Center for Biodiversity (CBD), Champaign, Illinois USA 61820
Kathryn A. Coates, Associate Research Scientist, Bermuda Biological Station for Research, Inc.,
17 Biological Station Lane, Ferry Reach, St. George's, Bermuda GE 01

This web site is currently [Under Construction!]under construction.

Introduction. This electronic document provides a current checklist of North American species of Annelida including the Acanthobdellae, Aphanoneura, Branchiobdellae, Hirudinea, and Oligochaeta; marine, estuarine, and freshwater Polychaeta are not included. The list is not intended to be a taxonomic revision; nomenclature presented herein reflects the majority opinion of that published in the scientific literature.

Museums and other educational institutions support the publication of lists of species for the scientific as well as lay communities, specifically to assist in the visualization of the larger picture of biological diversity - in this case the diversity of annelids in North America.

We realize that many users of this list may not be aware of or have easy access to the literature, and may have limited interest in the ecology or systematics of annelids. For those, we provide a bibliography of pertinent literature necessary for the collection, preservation, processing, and identification of North American annelid species, and current publications discussing the current phylogenetic relationships of this group.

We hope that this document will indeed serve as a vehicle to identify taxonomic groups in need of systematic revision, to foster more interest in studying annelidan populations in poorly studied areas such as Alaska, the Arctic, and continental shelf sediments, and to encourage annelid experts to discuss and publish existing systematic and distributional data.

History and Background of the List. In September 1988, with the initial support of both the American Fisheries Society Committee on Scientific and Common Names of Aquatic Invertebrates (AFS-CNAI) and the North American Benthological Society Committee on Scientific and Common Names of Aquatic Invertebrates (NABS-CNAI), a subcommittee (the authors of this document) was formed. Our responsibility was to prepare lists of scientific and vernacular names of clitellate annelids; aphanoneuran (non-clitellate) annelids were also included. Additional annelid systematists and ecologists were also consulted for their input and critique of this list; their contributions are listed in the Acknowledgments section of this document.

The original scope of the AFS-CNAI was to include aquatic species that occur on the American continent north of Mexico, restricted to species living at depths of 200 meters or less, or within 125 km of the coast, including coastal islands but not the West Indies (see Area of Coverage, following). The annelid subcommittee subsequently modified the original scope to include terrestrial clitellates from the specified geographic area. The Committee also agreed to use a modified format for geographic distribution from that of Robins et al. (1991 - AFS Special Publication 20).

Taxonomic Coverage. Currently, more than 830 species of annelids representing 27 families,12 orders, and five classes (Oligochaeta, Aphanoneura, Branchiobdellae, Acanthobdellae, and Hirudinea) are recognized; these include both native and introduced species in the region of coverage. Certainly, continued systematic studies will add new species, and will identify previously recognized species as synonyms. This list reflects a thorough and continuing survey of the literature, reflected in the modification date at the end of this electronic document. Future revisions will resolve errors and omissions that have inevitably occurred and that come to our attention.

Area of Coverage. This list includes all species of clitellate and aphanoneuran annelids from the United States and Canada that live in (1) fresh waters, including wetlands, (2) marine waters from shoreline habitats out to a depth of 200 m on the continental shelf or a distance of 125 km offshore on the continental shelf where the depth is less than 200 m, (3) estuaries, and (4) terrestrial habitats (e.g., gardens, woodlands, mountains, deserts, and caves). Annelids from the Arctic Ocean and the northern Gulf of Mexico, south, to the mouth of the Rio Grande are included. Grainger's (1971) definition of the Arctic Ocean is followed, which, to the west, includes the waters north of the Bering Strait, and to the east includes all waters west of the eastern end of Hudson Strait (including Hudson Bay, Ungava Bay, Frobisher Bay, and Cumberland Sound) and waters north of the Arctic Circle in Davis Strait. Annelids known only from offshore islands (e.g., Greenland, Iceland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the West Indies) are excluded. A lack of studies and/or the absence of a good compilation of literature on the annelids of many regions in the area may have resulted in the exclusion of numerous taxa. Species known from the periphery of the area of coverage, e.g., Mexico (including Baja California), are likely to be found to have populations extending into the study area.

For the eastern Pacific region, published records of annelids from waters along Canadian and U.S. shores and coastal islands, from the Aleutian Islands to the Mexico - United States boundary, are listed. Hawaii and the Pacific Trust Territories are excluded from the study area for two major reasons: (1) their faunas are of Indo-Pacific origin whereas the northeast Pacific Coast fauna is largely indigenous or holarctic, and (2) the preceding AFS endeavors excluded Hawaii and the Trust Territories from its study area. Annelids occurring in Hawaii may be included in later editions.

Common Names. Both the AFS-CNAI and NABS-CNAI acknowledge the need to recognize common names that reflect broad current usage; adopt appropriate names from the rich and colorful vernacular names that exist; and develop descriptive names when desirable, based on AFS guidelines and principles. The Committee expects that the selected vernacular names and newly designated names of this list will be widely used after publication, and then will become "common".

This annelid subcommittee also recognizes that common names of annelids are used by commercial wormers and amateur collectors, for aquarium specimens, in ecological studies, in government listings of threatened and endangered species, and in both popular and scientific writing. At the same time, however, the annelid subcommittee has taken the position that standardized and uniform common names should always be referenced with appropriate scientific names and not used as substitutes for them. Proper identification and recording of some species are important because of their high economic values. Worm and leech bait-industries have a total value in southern Ontario, Canada, alone of several million dollars. The existence of different names in separate areas of a species' geographic range creates difficulties in communication. Similarly, a single common name employed in several places for diverse species causes confusion. Therefore, because common names have assigned to only a few species to date, only common names recognized for some of the higher taxa will be included in this electronic posting (e.g., Family Enchytraeidae - potworms; Class Branchiobdellae - crayfish worms).

Plan of the List. The list of annelids is presented in a natural or phyletic sequence of classes and orders, as this natural sequence is currently understood, with families, genera, and species within each order arranged alphabetically. The higher classification of Annelida is complex, controversial, and frequently revised. The classification adopted here is conservative - it reflects only the consistently supported parts of the phylogeny of annelids (Timm, 1981; Brinkhurst, 1982; Kasprzak, 1984; Jamieson, 1988; Holt, 1989; Davies, 1991; Gelder 1996) and is not resolved where relationships are unsupported by data; alphabetical listings predominate. Undoubtedly, the ranks of the included classes will be changed in the near future as a result of ongoing studies of the relationships among clitellates as well as those between all clitellate and aclitellate groups of annelids.

Authors and dates of establishment for scientific names of species are included. These are commonly needed by persons who may not have ready access to the original literature. Use of the authority's names reflects a current interpretation of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (1985). In line with that code, the name(s) of the author(s) and date of publication follow the specific name; if the species was originally described in another genus, the name of the author and date appear in parentheses. Some synonyms have been noted [= name] of North American names synonymized with European taxa. Frequently, the North American names are re-erected subsequent to detailed comparative studies of North American specimens.

Occurrences of species by province and state will not be provided here; an annotated list of species, including common names, is currently being prepared for publication in a print medium.

Taxa in this list which are followed by the pound (#) sign are presently known to occur only in greenhouses or other artificial habitats; they are not known to occur in nature within the geographical boundaries established for this list (above).

This list is incomplete at this time; numerous families, genera, and species will be added soon.






























[Note: Holt and Opell (1993) changed three species names (*) back to their original ending of "a" from "us", but gave no reason for the reversion. Therefore, to minimize further confusion and maintain current consistency, these changes are not accepted at this time. The specific ending of Cambarincola osceola was changed to osceolai by Holt (1973). This change is not supported by the current Code of Zoological Nomenclature (F.M. Bayer, ICZN, pers. comm.), and the justification for keeping ouachita (Holt and Opell, 1993: 266) applies also to osceola. Therefore, osceola becomes the accepted spelling.]



LITERATURE CITED [incomplete at this time]

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1982. Evolution in the Annelida. Can. J. Zool. 60(5): 1043-1059.

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1986. Guide to the freshwater aquatic microdrile oligochaetes of North America. Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 84. vi + 259 pp.

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1988. A taxonomic analysis of the Haplotaxidae. Can. J. Zool. 66(10): 2243-2252.

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1989. A phylogenetic analysis of the Lumbriculidae (Annelida, Oligochaeta). Can. J. Zool. 67(11): 2731-2739.

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1991a. Ancestors. Mitt. Hamburg Mus. Inst. 88(1): 97-110.

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1991b. A phylogenetic analysis of the Tubificinae (Annelida, Oligochaeta). Can. J. Zool. 69(2): 392-397.

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1991c. A phylogenetic analysis of the Phreodrilidae (Annelida, Oligochaeta). Can. J. Zool. 69(8): 2031-2040.

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1992. Evolutionary relationships within the Clitellata. Soil. Biol. Biochem. 24(12): 1202-1205.

Brinkhurst, R. O. 1994. Evolutionary relationships within the Clitellata: an update. Megadrilogica 5(10: 109-112.

Brinkhurst, R. O., and S. R. Gelder. 1989. Did the lumbriculids provide the ancestors of the branchiobdellidans, acanthobdellidans and leeches? Hydrobiologia 180: 7-15.

Brinkhurst, R. O., and A. F. L. Nemec. 1987. A comparison of phenetic and phylogenetic methods applied to the systematics of Oligochaeta. Hydrobiologia 155: 65-74.

Coates, K. A. 1987. Phylogenetics of some Enchytraeidae (Annelida: Oligochaeta): A preliminary investigation of relationships to the Haplotaxidae. Hydrobiologia 155: 91-106.

Coates, K. A. 1989. Phylogeny and origins of Enchytraeidae. Hydrobiologia 180: 17-33.

Davies, R. W. 1991. Annelida: Leeches, polychaetes, and acanthobdellids. Pp. 437-479, In: J. H. Thorp and A. P. Covich, eds. Ecology and classification of North American freshwater invertebrates. Academic Press - Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers. [To order, contact Academic Press, Book Marketing Dept. #10520, 1250 Sixth Avenue, San Diego, California, 92101-9665 USA. Tel.: 1-800 - 321-5068 (specify catalog # 690645-9). Price: US$59.95.] [Note: the second edition of this book will be in press soon, projected for publication in 2000].

Erséus, C. 1987. Phylogenetic analysis of the aquatic Oligochaeta under the principle of parsimony. Hydrobiologia 155: 75-89.

Erséus, C. 1990. Cladistic analysis of the subfamilies within the Tubificidae (Oligochaeta). Zool. Scr. 19(1): 57-63.

Garman, H. 1888. On the anatomy and histology of a new earthworm (Diplocardia communis, gen. et sp. nov.). Bulletin of the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History 3: 47-77.

Gelder, S. R. 1996. A review of the taxonomic nomenclature and a checklist of the species of the Branchiobdellae (Annelida: Clitellata). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 109(4): 653-663.

Gelder, S. R., and R. O. Brinkhurst. 1990. An assessment of the phylogeny of the Branchiobdellida (Annelida: Clitellata), using PAUP. Can. J. Zool. 68(6): 1318-1326.

Grainger, E. H. (1971). Arctic zooplankton. Fisheries Research Board of Canada Bulletin 176: 1-264.

Grimm, R., and S. Fend. 1997. Nais bicuspidalis sp. n. (Oligochaeta: Naididae), a naidid species with forked hair setae from North America. Mitt. Hamburg Zool. Mus. Inst. 94: 19-26. Harman, W. J. 1960. Studies on the taxonomy and musculature of the earthworms of central Illinois. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. unpublished Ph.D. thesis. v + 107 pp. [UIUC Library Cat. No. 595.16 H227s]

Holt, P. C. 1986. Newly established families of the order Branchiobdellida (Annelida: Clitellata) with a synopsis of the genera. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 99(4): 676-702.

Holt, P. C. 1989. Comments on the classification of the Clitellata. Hydrobiologia 180: 1-5.

International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 1985. International code of zoological nomenclature, 3rd edition. International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, London.

Jamieson, B. G. M. 1978. Phylogenetic and phenetic systematics of the opisthoporous Oligochaeta (Annelida: Clitellata). Evol. Theor. 3(4): 195-233.

Jamieson, B. G. M. 1980. Preliminary discussion of an Hennigian analysis of the phylogeny and systematics of opisthoporous oligochaetes. Rev. Ecol. Biol. Sol 17(2): 261-275.

Jamieson, B. G. M. 1988. On the phylogeny and higher classification of the Oligochaeta. Cladistics 4: 367-410.

Kasprzak, K. 1982. Problems of the origin of oligochaetes (Annelida: Oligochaeta). Prezgl. Zool. 26: 145-160. (English translation, Can. Transl. Fish. Aquat. Sci. No. 4996).

Kasprzak, K. 1984. The previous and contemporary conceptions on phylogeny and systematic classifications of Oligochaeta (Annelida). Annales Zoologici (Warsaw) (Polska Akad. Nauk Inst. Zool.) 38: 205-223.

Kathman, R.D., and R.O. Brinkhurst. 1998. Guide to the freshwater oligochaetes of North America. Aquatic Resources Center, 6604 Third Street, College Grove, TN 37046. vi + 264 pp. E-mail address: [ ]; order form available HERE.

Klemm, D. J. 1985. Freshwater leeches (Annelida: Hirudinea). Pp. 70-173, In: D. J. Klemm, ed. A guide to the freshwater Annelida (Polychaeta, naidid and tubificid Oligochaeta, and Hirudinea) of North America. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, IA.

Klemm, D.J. 1990. Hirudinea, pp. 398-415, In: Pecharsky, B. L., P. R. Fraissinet, M. A. Penton, and D. J. Conklin, Jr. 1990. Freshwater macroinvertebrates of northeastern North America. Comstock Publishing Associates, a division of Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. xi + 442 pp. [US$57.50 (cloth hardback - ISBN #: 0-8014-2076-8), US$26.50 (paper softcover - ISBN #: 0-8014-9688-8); to order, tel. 607.277-2211]

Klemm, D.J. 1995. Identification guide to the freshwater leeches (Annelida: Hirudinea) of Florida and other southern states. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FL DEP), Division of Water Facilities, Tallahassee. Available from Bureau of Surface Water Management, FL DEP, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Talahassee, FL 32399-2400. v + 82 pp. This document also available free in PDF format, by scrolling down the list to "Leeches.pdf", HERE.

Milligan, M.R. 1996. Identification manual for the aquatic Oligochaeta of Florida, Volume II. Estuarine and nearshore marine oligochaetes. xvi + 239 pp. + appendix. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Resources Protection, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, FL 32399-2400 USA. [Available by sending a 10" x 14" self-addressed stamped envelope (US$3.00, priority mail) to the above address. Check postal rates for international delivery.] This document also available free in PDF format, by scrolling down the list to "OligoEst.pdf", HERE.

Milligan, M.R. 1997. Identification manual for the aquatic Oligochaeta of Florida, Volume I. Freshwater oligochaetes. v + 187 pp. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Twin Towers Office Building, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, FL 32399-2400 USA. [Available by sending a 10" x 14" self-addressed stamped envelope (US$3.00, priority mail) to the above address. Check postal rates for international delivery.] This document also available free in PDF format, by scrolling down the list to "OligoFW.pdf", HERE.

Nemec, A. F. L., and R. O. Brinkhurst. 1987. A comparison of methodological approaches to the subfamilial classification of the Naididae (Oligochaeta). Can. J. Zool. 65(3): 691-707.

Parker, S. P. 1982. Synopsis and classification of living organisms. McGraw Hill, New York. 1,232 pp.

Purschke, G., W. Westheide, D. Rohde, and R. O. Brinkhurst. 1993. Morphological reinvestigation and phylogenetic relationship of Acanthobdella peledina (Annelida, Clitellata). Zoomorphology 113(2): 91-101.

Reynolds, J. W., and D. G. Cook. 1976. Nomenclatura oligochaetologica. A catalogue of names, descriptions and type specimens of the Oligochaeta. Univ. New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick. x + 217 pp. [This catalog, and the first supplement, cited below, are available from University of New Brunswick Bookstore, P. O. Box 4400, Fredericton, NB, Canada E3B 5A3, for CAN$20.00 (which includes GST {Canada's goods and services tax}; the second and third supplements, also cited below, are available, at no charge, from the New Brunswick Museum, 277 Douglas Avenue, Saint John, NB, Canada E2K 1E5.].

Reynolds, J. W., and D. G. Cook. 1981. Nomenclatura oligochaetologica. Supplementum primum. A catalogue of names, descriptions and type specimens of the Oligochaeta. [published by the University of New Brunswick] Fredericton, New Brunswick. v + 39 pp. [to order, see note above].

Reynolds, J. W., and D. G. Cook. 1989. Nomenclatura oligochaetologica. Supplementum secundum. A catalogue of names, descriptions and type specimens of the Oligochaeta. New Brunswick Mus. Monogr. Ser. (Nat. Sci.) No. 8. v + 37 pp. [this second supplement is available, at no charge, from the New Brunswick Museum, 277 Douglas Avenue, Saint John, NB, Canada E2K 1E5.].

Reynolds, J. W., and D. G. Cook. 1993. Nomenclatura oligochaetologica. Supplementum tertium. A catalogue of names, descriptions and type specimens of the Oligochaeta. New Brunswick Mus. Monogr. Ser. (Nat. Sci.) No. 9. vi + 33 pp. [this third supplement is available, at no charge, from the New Brunswick Museum, 277 Douglas Avenue, Saint John, NB, Canada E2K 1E5.].

Sawyer, R. T. 1986a. Leech biology and behaviour. Volume I. Anatomy, physiology, and behaviour. Clarendon Press, Oxford. xiv + pp. 1-417 + index.

Sawyer, R. T. 1986b. Leech biology and behaviour. Volume II. Feeding biology, ecology, and systematics. Clarendon Press, Oxford. xiv + pp. 419-793 + index.

Sawyer, R. T. 1986c. Leech biology and behaviour. Volume III. Bibliography. Clarendon Press, Oxford. x + pp. 799-1,065.

Timm, T. 1981. On the origin and evolution of aquatic Oligochaeta. Eesti NSV Tead. Akad. Toim. Biologia 30(3): 174-181.

Wetzel, M. J. 1992. Aquatic Annelida of Illinois: Introduction and checklist of species. Trans. Illinois St. Acad. Sci. 85(1 and 2): 87-101.

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Copyright 1992, 1996-2001, by Mark J. Wetzel (Illinois Natural History Survey Center for Biodiversity, Champaign), Kathryn A. Coates, Stuart R. Gelder, Jacqueline Madill, and John W. Reynolds, unless otherwise noted; All Rights Reserved. This website contains original, copyrighted material; it is being provided here as a professional courtesy, exclusively for your private, non-commercial use. Reference to or redistribution of any part of the information contained herein - whether it be through oral, printed, electronic, or other tangible medium of expression - shall acknowledge the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) and this website as its source. Should you have any questions whatsoever regarding the warranty, liability, or proprietary rights of, or credits for information contained within this website, please refer to the INHS License Agreement. [To the best of my knowledge - and with the exception of the INHS logo - all icons, line breaks, dots, arrows, and globes are not copyrighted.]

Suggested citation for this electronic web site:

Wetzel, M. J., and K. A. Coates (editors), with S. R. Gelder, J. Madill, and J. W. Reynolds. 2000.
The aphanoneuran and clitellate Annelida occurring in the United States and Canada - Acanthobdellida, Aphanoneura, Branchiobdellida, Hirudinea, and Oligochaeta.
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