Annelida     -    Home Page    -   Megadrilogica



You have accessed

- - - - - an older website that is not being updated; the content has been reorganized, and is now presented here


  • delete THIS older URL from your bookmark folder(s).  

We encourage suggestions and corrections to errata that you may see on the new website.  Thanks; MJW





"For Where Is The Species That Has No Ecological Reality?"

- R. O. Brinkhurst & B. G. M. Jamieson, 1971



This website established and maintained by Mark J. Wetzel, Research Scientist 
- Curator, Collections Manager, and Database Manager for the INHS Annelida Collection
Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Organization, Champaign, Illinois USA




The INHS Annelida Collection is perhaps the largest state collection of freshwater oligochaetes in the country, holding more than 330,000 specimens (over 6,800 lots, or collections). Approximately 217,000 specimens are permanently mounted on microscope slides; the remaining specimens are stored in alcohol in vials and jars. With the exception of one monospecific order - the Acanthobdellida, or bristle worms - the collection includes representatives of the other five classes in the Annelida: Aphanoneura (the head-crawling, or suction-feeding worms, including representatives of one family, Aeolosomatidae); Branchiobdellida ((one family, Branchiobdellidae - the crayfish worms, including representatives of the subfamilies Bdellodrilinae, Cambarincolinae, and Xironodrilinae); Hirudinea (the leeches, including representatives of families Haemopidae, Hirudinidae, Erpobdellidae, Glossiphoniidae, and Piscicolidae); the Oligochaeta, with representatives of the aquatic microdrile worms (families Enchytraeidae, Haplotaxidae, Lumbriculidae, Naididae, Opistocystidae, and Tubificidae), and the terrestrial megadrile worms (families Acanthodrilidae, Komarekionidae, Lumbricidae, Megascolecidae, and Sparganophilidae); and Polychaeta (sand worms, tube worms, or clam worms - primarily marine) including a few representatives of the families Capitellidae and Sabellidae. The INHS Annelida Collection includes representatives of many worm species that have limited known distributions in North America. Currently, none of the annelids known or thought likely to occur in Illinois is listed as endangered or threatened by either the federal government or by the State of Illinois, nor are there any under consideration for such listing.

The geographic scope of the INHS Annelida Collection is about 74% from Illinois; 25% from elsewhere in North America (collections from the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. John Island), and from the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island); and 1% from other countries, including the Bahamas, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, India, Jamaica, Lesser Antilles (Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, Granada, Nexis, St. Lucia), The Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Sweden, and Venezuela.


The INHS Annelida Collection contains primary types of six leech and one aquatic oligochaete species:

1. Illinobdella alba M. C. Meyer, 1940 [=Myzobdella lugubris Leidy, 1851] (Hirudinea: Piscicolidae) - INHS Annelida Collection slide no. 13580 (21).

2. Illinobdella elongata M. C. Meyer, 1940 [= Myzobdella lugubris Leidy, 1851] (Hirudinea: Piscicolidae) - INHS Annelida Collection slide no. 13582 (118).

3. Illinobdella moorei M. C. Meyer, 1940 [=Myzobdella lugubris Leidy, 1851] (Hirudinea: Piscicolidae) - INHS Annelida Collection slide no. 13579 (133).

4. Illinobdella richardsoni M. C. Meyer, 1940 [=Myzobdella lugubris Leidy, 1851] (Hirudinea: Piscicolidae) - INHS Annelida Collection slide no. 13581 (85).

5. Cystobranchus verrilli M. C. Meyer, 1940 (Hirudinea: Piscicolidae) - INHS Annelida Collection slide no. 13578 (152).

6. Piscicolaria reducta M. C. Meyer, 1940 (Hirudinea: Piscicolidae) - INHS Annelida Collection slide no. 13583 (150).

1. Limnodrilus tortilipenis Wetzel, 1987 (Oligochaeta: Tubificidae). Two paratypes of this species are deposited in the INHS Annelida Collection (no accession number); the holotype and one paratype of this species are deposited in the U.S. National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (USNM 100439, USNM 100440).


Over 70% of the slide-mounted aquatic oligochaetes have been identified. Many additional collections of aquatic oligochaetes, presently held in alcohol jars and vials, await final processing, mounting on glass microslides, and identification. A computer database for the collection was begun in 1991.

An important acquisition for the INHS Annelida Collection in 1986 was the Walter J. Harman collection of terrestrial oligochaetes. The material in this collection, comprised of 1,600 earthworm specimens representing 22 species, 10 genera, and 3 families, was collected by Dr. Harman from 230 sites in central Illinois during his 1956-1958 survey for his doctoral work at the University of Illinois.

Specific surveys for aquatic annelids as well as general surveys for all aquatic macroinvertebrates conducted by M. J. Wetzel and other INHS biologists since 1973 have contributed the vast majority of the identified and unidentified specimens to the INHS Annelida Collection.


Illinois species now deposited in the INHS Annelida Collection include 3 aphanoneurans (1 family, 1 genus), 9 branchiobdellidans (3 families, 6 genera), 86 aquatic or semiaquatic oligochaetes (7 families, 45 genera), 32 leeches (4 families, 19 genera), and at least 22 terrestrial oligochaetes (3 families, 10 genera). One aquatic oligochaete, Eclipidrilus asymmetricus (Smith, 1896) (Oligochaeta: Lumbriculidae), is endemic to Illinois; several other oligochaete species, including Limnodrilus tortilipenis Wetzel, 1987 (Naididae, Tubificinae), Rhyacodrilus falciformis Bretscher, 1901, and Rhyacodrilus subterraneus Hrabe, 1963 (Naididae, Rhyacodrilinae), and Allonais inaequalis (Stephenson, 1911) (Naididae, Naidinae) are species considered rare in Illinois, and known from only a few localities in North America. Another species, Varichaetadrilus angustipenis (Brinkhurst & Cook, 1966) (Naididae, Tubificinae) - sporadic in its North American distribution - has been collected from several springs and caves in Illinois, but rarely elsewhere in the state.

The aquatic Annelida occurring in Illinois were recently discussed in Wetzel (1992). An electronic version of this paper is available at The Aquatic Annelida of Illinois - Annotated Checklist of Species.



Financial support for the maintenance of INHS Annelida Collection, and for the collection and identification of specimens housed here, has been provided over the last 36 years by the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), Illinois State Water Survey (ISGS), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (formerly the Illinois Department of Conservation), Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, North American Benthological Society, Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA) [formerly the Association of Systematics Collections (ASC)], National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) - Smithsonian Institution, U.S. Department of Agriculture (Soil Conservation Service), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Commonwealth Edison Company, Central Illinois Public Service Company, Marathon Oil Company, The Herbert H. Ross Memorial Fund, American Fisheries Society, Northern Illinois Planning Commission, Illinois Coastal Zone Management Program, City Water, Light, and Power Company (Springfield, Illinois), Institute of Environmental Quality, and the Illinois Institute of Environmental Studies (Water Resources Center), U.S. National Park Service, Glen Canyon Environmental Studies, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, Illinois Groundwater Consortium, Illinois Environmental Protection Trust Fund Commission, the World Wildlife Fund, Aquatic Resources Center (College Grove, TN), Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP), and Discover Life In America, Inc..

Of course, the collection would not exist without the field collections and laboratory sample processing efforts of numerous scientists, technicians, extension personnel, and the lay public - over two hundred people have contributed specimens to this collection, which grows by over three thousand specimens each year. The scientific and administrative support staffs of the INHS also are instrumental in the continuing support and maintenance of this collection. In particular, I acknowledge the librarians of the INHS Library and the University and departmental libraries of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library System - their management of superlative research libraries as well as their ability to obtain even the most obscure distributional, ecological, taxonomic, and systematic papers has been instrumental in maintaining this as well as the other research collections housed at the Illinois Natural History Survey. An important part of the INHS Annelida Collection is the extensive library of published papers and reprints focusing on Annelida. This library of annelid literature is supported in part by my membership (since 1979) on the Literature Review Committee of the North American Benthological Society, for which I contribute an annual compilation of published literature focusing on the Annelida. Current and past annual compilations (1992-2007) are available electronically HERE. I also acknowledge our colleagues around the world for regularly sending me reprints of their papers focusing on the Annelida. Of particular note is the October 1999 gift of reprints from Dr. Ralph O. Brinkhurst (Lebanon, TN) - papers he authored or co-authored during his exemplary career (30+ years) as a global annelid systematist and untiring mentor to countless understudies of oligochaete taxonomy, systematics, distribution, and ecology; you can gain some insight into Ralph's career in his recently released book, entitled "Still Searching; The Autobiography of a Biologist", available from Trafford Publishing.


This web page has been accessed  times since 20 February 1997. 
[calendar year web browser visits (hits) to this site: 1997 (420); 1998 (790); 1999 (1,698); 2000 (2,723); 2001 (3,867); 2002 (2,670); 2003 (1,575); 2004 (1,180); 2005 (900); 2006 (707); 2007 (967)].

Questions, Comments, Suggestions, or Ideas?

Please e-mail them to me at mjwetzel[AT]

Please Note - Copyright 1992; 1996-2008, by Mark J. Wetzel (Illinois Natural History Survey Division of Biodiversity and Ecological Entomology, Champaign) 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. 2008. INHS Annelida Collection (main web page). World Wide Web URL:

[ ]. 24 September 2008.

Go to The INHS Center for Annelida Resources 
Go to M.J. Wetzel homepage.

Return to top of this page.