The family Lumbricidae is arguably the most well-known and well-studied earthworm group due to its dominance in the European earthworm fauna and its invasion in temperate regions worldwide. However, its North American members, especially the genus Bimastos Moore, 1893, are poorly understood. We revised the systematics of the genus Bimastos and tested the hypothesis of the monophyly of North American lumbricids using morphological characters and eight molecular markers. Phylogenetic analyses based on our extensive sampling of Bimastos and inclusion of Dendrodrilus and Allolobophoridella indicated a well-supported clade containing Bimastos and Eisenoides Gates, 1969, and provided the first evidence supporting that North American lumbricids are monophyletic. Assuming the available divergence time estimations and dating of land bridges are correct, it would suggest that the ancestor of this clade arrived North America through Beringia or the De Geer route during Late Cretaceous, and since then the clade has diverged from its Eurasian sister group, Eisenia. The peregrine genera Dendrodrilus and Allolobophoridella are nested within the Bimastos clade; we propose to treat them as junior synonyms of the genus Bimastos, and, contradictory to the commonly held belief of being European, they are indeed part of the indigenous North American earthworm fauna. Morphological characters, such as red-violet pigmentation, proclinate U-shaped nephridial bladders and calciferous diverticula in segment 10 further support this placement. The East Mediterranean-Levantine Spermophorodrilus Bouché, 1975 and Healyella Omodeo & Rota, 1989 are nested within the Dendrobaena sensu lato clade; therefore their close relationship with the North American Bimastos is refuted. Species fit the revised diagnosis of Bimastos are reviewed and keyed, and a new species, Bimastos schwerti sp. nov., is described.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)