Driloleirus americanus - (Smith, 1897)
Giant Palouse Earthworm
Other English Common Names: Washington Giant Earthworm, giant palouse earthworm
Synonym(s): Megascolides americanus Smith, 1897
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.110050
Element Code: IAOLI01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Worms, Leeches, and Other Annelids
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Annelida Oligochaeta Haplotaxida Megascolecidae Driloleirus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wells, S.M., R.M. Pyle, and N.M. Collins. 1983. The IUCN Invertebrate Red Data Book. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 632 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B83WEL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Megascolides americanus
Taxonomic Comments: Previously placed in the Australian genus Megascolides (IUCN, 1996).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Feb2006
Global Status Last Changed: 06Feb2006
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Rare in the Palouse bunchgrass prairies of Washington and northern Idaho. No new collections (previous 1988) except one in Palouse, Washington in 2006 and 4 reported by WA NHP.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (06Feb2006)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Washington (S1)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Rare in the Palouse bunchgrass prairies of Washington and northern Idaho. No new collections (previous 1988) except one in Palouse, Washington in 2006. Washington NHP also notes four sites in Clarkston/Pullman/Moscow area.

Area of Occupancy: 126 to >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Four sites are in Clarkston/Pullman/Moscow area. Habitat that appears appropriate occupies only a small part of the range.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: First discovered in Washington in 1897 but, until recently, not seen since 1988 (near Moscow Mountain). Recently (2006) collected from Washington State University Smoot Hill Ecological Preserve near Palouse, Washington (various newspapers incl. Spokesman-Review 2/1/2006). Four sites are in Clarkston/Pullman/Moscow area. Habitat that appears appropriate occupies only a small part of the range.

Population Size Comments: The population appears to be very low. One individual has been found in the past 20 years.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The Palouse prairies are considered to be the rarest ecosystem in Washington with the biggest threat to these worms being habitat destruction (since the late 1800s) due to agriculture and development. A secondary threat is the introduction of the now widespread European earthworm.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) Rare in the Palouse bunchgrass prairies of Washington and northern Idaho. No new collections (previous 1988) except one in Palouse, Washington in 2006. Washington NHP also notes four sites in Clarkston/Pullman/Moscow area.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Map unavailable!:
Distribution data for U.S. states and Canadian provinces is known to be incomplete or has not been reviewed for this taxon.
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States WA

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A large, white or pale earthworm
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Burrows deep (to 15 feet) in Palouse prairies soils in Washington.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 06Feb2006
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J., J.W. Fleckenstein
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 06Feb2006
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Baille, J., and B. Groombridge. 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland. 368 pp. Available from IUCN Publications Services Unit, 219c Huntington Road, Cambridge, CB3 0DL, United Kingdom.

  • Baillie, J., and B. Groombridge (editors). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Glan, Switzerland. 368 pp. + appendices.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2011. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; 12-month finding on a petition to list the Giant Palouse Earthworm (Drilolerius americanus) as Threatened or Endangered. Federal Register 76(143):44547-44564.

  • Wells, S.M., R.M. Pyle, and N.M. Collins. 1983. The IUCN Invertebrate Red Data Book. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 632 pp.

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