Dr. Rüdiger M. Schmelz
71 new species of earthworms and enchytraeids in a Zootax Special Issue in honor of András Zicsi (1928-2015)
Seventy-one new species of earthworms and enchytraeids – small whitish relatives of earthworms – have been uncovered in a Special Issue of the journal Zootaxa (Nº 4496). More than 100 authors have contributed in 40 articles to the 575 pages volume. The species were found in 15 different countries of South America, Africa, and Eurasia. This volume was published to commemorate András Zicsi (1928-2015), the eminent German-Hungarian earthworm taxonomist. It provides a good overview on the current state-of-the-art of earthworm taxonomy, with respect to methods, styles and standards of description, geographical and thematic focus. DNA-sequencess are increasingly used to corroborate or even to establish new species, even though detailed morphological descriptions remain the backbone of earthworm taxonomy.
Earthworm taxonomy is not an ivory tower discipline. Many species are discovered in areas where people live, work, and sustain their livelihood. Because of their body size they are often known by the locals before science gets hold of them. Farmers are interested in the species that live on their lands. Sustainable agriculture is unthinkable without earthworms. The amount of endemic species with a narrow distribution range—and therefore with risk of extinction due to soil degradation or land use change—is tremendous. So earthworm taxonomy really matters. This volume increases the number of known species by 1%, a small but notable proportion!
The editorial can be downloaded here.
Global diversity of earthworms and enchytraeids (Clitellata): papers in honor of András Zicsi (1928–2015) (ed. Rüdiger M. Schmelz). Zootaxa 4496, 575 pp.; 30 cm. Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand. ISBN 978-1-77670-496-5 (paperback).
ISBN 978-1-77670-497-2 (Online edition). Orders via email@example.com.
Dr. Rüdiger M. Schmelz is taxonomist of enchytraeids and Zootaxa subject editor for Oligochaeta.