by Piter Kehoma Boll
Today our Friday Fellow is an almost unknown species from an almost unknown group: Luteostriata abundans (formerly Notogynaphallia abundans) is a land planarian (a flatworm) found in southern Brazil, mainly in urban areas. It’s common to find it around in gardens and parks, hidden under leaves, stones and logs.
Most land planarians are very poorly known, even though they are recognized as good bio-indicators of conservation. However, there is an article published about the feeding habits of L. abundans (Prasniski & Leal-Zanchet, 2009). Currently it’s only known that it feeds on woodlice, but since it’s a very common species in disturbed areas, its diet probably includes something else. (I’m studying the predatory behavior of this and other species, but haven’t found any other prey item for it yet…)
Here at IPP (Instituto de Pesquisa de Planárias, in English “Planarian Research Institute”), we are also doing research about the regeneration of L. abundans. Everybody knows how well freshwater planarians can regenerate when cut into several pieces. Land planarians don’t seem to be so skilled, but very little is known about them on this subject too!
Another interesting fact that we noticed about L. abundans is their ability to escape from almost every container you put them into. We need to seal the lid of their plastic containers with adhesive tape and yet they sometimes manage to find a way to leave.
There is so much yet to know about these flatworms. As predators, they are essential to balance the population size of their prey in conserved areas and for those species known to live well in urban places, knowledge of their feeding habits is important to evaluate their chance to become invasive.
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Carbayo, F. 2010. A new genus for seven Brazilian land planarian species, split off from Notogynaphallia (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida) Belgian Journal of Zoology, 140 (Suppl.), 91-101
Prasniski, M. E. T. & Leal-Zanchet, A. M. 2009. Predatory behavior of the land flatworm Notogynaphallia abundans (Platyhelminthes: Tricladida) Zoologia, 26, 606-612 DOI: 10.1590/S1984-46702009005000011