Introduction to Annelida and the Class Polychaeta

Piet F.M. Verdonschot*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The annelids include terrestrial and aquatic (fresh and marine) earthworms, freshwater and marine worms, leeches, and branchiobdellids. They comprise the dominant invertebrates of the deep sea. Fresh or inland water annelids can be found in all kinds of aquatic and semi-aquatic environments, such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, groundwater, wet soils, and other wet habitats. Like terrestrial and marine annelids, they contribute importantly to the decomposition of organic material and as such provide an important ecosystem service. Some annelid groups, however, prey on other invertebrates, like the leeches, or are ectoparasitic or commensals, like the branchiobdellids and acanthobdellids. The latter are fish parasites. The second important ecosystem service is their role in the food web. Annelids can often be abundant and are an important food source for other invertebrates and fishes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThorp and Covich's Freshwater Invertebrates
Subtitle of host publicationEcology and General Biology: Fourth Edition
EditorsJames H. Thorp, Christopher Rogers
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780123850270
ISBN (Print)9780123850263
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Annelida
  • Clitellata
  • Non-Clitellata
  • Oligochaeta
  • Polychaeta


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