DNA-barcoding of invasive European earthworms (Clitellata: Lumbricidae) in south-western Australia


Using DNA-barcoding, we studied the diversity of invasive European earthworms in the south-western corner of Australia. We found six Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units belonging to five morphospecies: Aporrectodea caliginosa, A. trapezoides, Dendrobaena cf. attemsi, Eiseniella tetraedra and Octolasion cyaneum. These were variously collected from indigenous forests and/or alienated land. Two cryptic lineages were found within A. trapezoides, and high intraspecific genetic variation was also found within E. tetraedra — variation that had previously been documented in Europe. Our study demonstrates the usefulness of DNA-barcoding for the identification of earthworms, including cryptic species. Correct identification and high taxonomic resolution is crucial for the monitoring of cryptic diversity, detecting new introductions and monitoring spread of established exotic earthworms.

Biological Invasions, 17: 2527-2532