Turkish Journal of Zoology




The aim of this study is to examine the altitudinal patterns of earthworm community structure at different habitat types on the western slopes of Kopaonik Mountain. In total, 30 plots between 420 and 1950 m a.s.l. were sampled within two years' fieldwork. Overall, 27 earthworm taxa belonging to 11 genera were found at the study sites. A combination of Pearson's correlation, polynomial regression, and cluster analysis (UPGMA) was used for determining the effects of altitude on the earthworm community structure. The earthworm abundance and species richness monotonically decreased with the increase in altitude, showing a significant negative correlation. Cluster analysis revealed two patterns of earthworm community composition, furthermore, there are taxa with a broad altitudinal range. The mean altitudinal range size of earthworms significantly increased along the altitudinal gradients, indicating that our results support the Rapoport's altitudinal rule. Secondly, we focused on the community of earthworms in different habitat types, analyzing species richness and community composition using nonmetric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) following by analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) and an analysis of similarity percentages (SIMPER). Both altitude and habitat type had strong effects on the community structure of earthworm.


Abundance, altitudes, earthworm, habitats, Rapoport's altitudinal rule, species richness

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