Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Biotopic Association of Earthworms in Intact Forests of Teberda Nature Reserve


Contribution of micromosaic structure of high mountain forests to ecological diversity of earthworms have been assessed. Intact forests of Arkhyz section of Teberda Nature Reserve were studied. The dominant types of forests have been recognized for the first time based on eco-coenotic classification. The ecological conditions of their functioning have been studied. Earthworm numbers have been studied in the recognized forest types. Diversity of earthworms was studied in soils under crowns, under fallen trees, and in mosses growing on rocks. 16 species of Lumbricidae have been found, with 4 of them being discovered for the first time. Full complexes of Lumbricidae were associated with biotopes of forest types of increased soil moisture content, low acidity, availability of nitrogen and pronounced litter. The largest abundance, diversity and biomass of Lumbricidae have been found in nitrophilous tallgrass gray alder forests. The lowest have been found in xeromesophytic pine forests with fir, spruce and birch. The most widespread dark coniferous forest with beech were inhabited by seven species of Lumbricidae, dominated by the epigeic species. There were few epi-endogeic and anecic species. The endogeic group of earthworms was represented by Crimea and Caucasus subendemic Dendrobaena schmidti. Diversity and biomass of earthworms in dark coniferous forests with beech were higher than in spruce-fir forests. During summer, dead fallen trees served as a microsite preferential for epigeic and endogeic species, while mosses growing on rocks were preferred by endogeic species.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.


  1. 1

    Antoshchenkov, V.F., Dynamics of soil fauna affected by pasture regime, Cand. Sci. (Biol.) Dissertation, Moscow: Moscow State Pedagog. Univ., 1985.

  2. 2

    Cherepanov, S.K., Sosudistye rasteniya Rossii i sopredel’nykh gosudarstv (Vascular Plants of Russia and Adjacent Countries), St. Petersburg: Mir i Sem’ya, 1995.

  3. 3

    Déchêne, A.D. and Buddle, C.M., Decomposing logs increase oribatid mite assemblage diversity in mixedwood boreal forest, Biodiversity Conserv., 2010, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 237–256.

  4. 4

    Fischer, B.M., Schatz, H., and Maraun, M., Community structure, trophic position and reproductive mode of soil and bark-living oribatid mites in an alpine grassland ecosystem, Exp. Appl. Acarol., 2007, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 221–237.

  5. 5

    Forest Fund of European Russia, 2006. http://www.cepl. Accessed March 15, 2018.

  6. 6

    Fründ, H.-C., Butt, K., Capowiez, Y., Eisenhauer, N., Emmerling, C., Ernst, G., Potthoff, M., Schädler, M., and Schrader, S., Using earthworms as model organisms in the laboratory: recommendations for experimental implementations, Pedobiologia, 2010, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 119–125.

  7. 7

    Geras’kina, A.P., Earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in vicinities of Dombai settlement (Teberda Nature Reserve, Northwestern Caucasus, Karachay-Cherkess Republic), Tr. Zool. Inst.,Ross. Akad. Nauk, 2016, vol. 320, no. 4, pp. 450–466.

  8. 8

    Goncharov, A.A., Khramova, E.Yu., and Tiunov, A.V., Spatial variations in the trophic structure of soil animal communities in boreal forests of Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve, Eurasian Soil Sci., 2014, vol. 47, no. 5, pp. 441–448.

  9. 9

    Gongalsky, K.B., The spatial distribution of large soil invertebrates on burned areas in xerophilous ecosystems of the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus, Arid Ecosyst., 2011, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 260–266.

  10. 10

    Ibragimov, A.K., Pugachev, E.V., and Ivashchenko, N.N., The state of forest soils as an indicator of critical state of ecosystems, Materialy Vserossiiskoi nauchno-prakticheskoi konferentsii “Sovremennye problemy pochvovedeniya i ekologii,” g. Ioshkar-Ola, 2–3 oktyabrya 2006 g. (Proc. All-Russ. Sci.-Pract. Conf. “Modern Problems in Soil Science and Ecology,” Yoshkar-Ola, October 2–3, 2006), Yoshkar-Ola: Mariisk. Gos. Tekh. Univ., 2006, part 1, pp. 41–45.

  11. 11

    Kononov, V.N., Vegetation of the Teberda Nature Reserve, Tr. Teberdinsk. Gos. Zapoved., 1957, vol. 1, pp. 85–112.

  12. 12

    Kononov, V.N. and Savel’eva, V.V., Description of vegetation of Arkhyz, Tr. Teberdinsk. Gos. Zapoved., 1977, vol. 9, pp. 194–213.

  13. 13

    Kooch, Y., Response of earthworms’ ecological groups to decay degree of dead trees (case study: Sardabrood forest of Chalous, Iran), Eur. J. Exp. Biol., 2012, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 532–538.

  14. 14

    Landolt, E., Ökologische Zeigerwerte zur Schweizer Flora, in Veröffentlichungen des Geobotanischen Institutes der ETH, Zurich: Stiftung Rübel, 1977, vol. 64.

  15. 15

    Liksakova, N.S., The boreal deciduous forests of Chudovskii district of Novgorod oblast, Bot. Zh., 2004, vol. 89, no. 8, pp. 1319–1342.

  16. 16

    Mazantseva, G.P., Changes in mass of earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) during the storage of fixed material, Materialy V Vsesoyuznogo soveshchaniya “Problemy pochvennoi zoologii,” g. Vil’nyus, 17–21 noyabrya 1975 g. (Proc. V All-Union Conf. “Problems of Soil Zoology,” Vilnius, November 17–21, 1975), Vilnius: Akad. Nauk Lit. SSR, 1975, pp. 218–219.

  17. 17

    Metodicheskie podkhody k ekologicheskoi otsenke lesnogo pokrova v basseine maloi reki (Methodological A-pproaches to Ecological Evaluation of Forests in the Small River Basin), Zaugol’nova, L.B. and Braslavskaya, T.Yu., Eds., Moscow: KMK, 2010.

  18. 18

    Orlova, M.A., Lukina, N.V., Kamaev, I.O., Smirnov, V.E., and Kravchenko, T.V., Mosaic forest biogeocenosises and soil fertility, Lesovedenie, 2011, no. 6, pp. 39–48.

  19. 19

    Perel’, T.S., Rasprostranenie i zakonomernosti raspredeleniya dozhdevykh chervei fauny SSSR (Distribution Pattern of Earthworms in Fauna of USSR), Moscow: Nauka, 1979.

  20. 20

    Pickett, S.T.A. and White, P.S., The Ecology of Natural Disturbance and Patch Dynamics, San Diego: Academic, 1985.

  21. 21

    Rapoport, I.B., A new species of the genus Lumbricus (L., 1758) (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in Caucasus, Zool. Zh., 2005, vol. 84, no. 8, pp. 1015–1016.

  22. 22

    Rapoport, I.B., Fauna, ecology and altitudinal patterns of distribution of earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in the central part of the North Caucasus, Exte-nded Abstract of Cand. Sci. (Biol.) Dissertation, Tolyatti: Inst. Ecol. Volga Vain, Russ. Acad. Sci., 2010.

  23. 23

    Rapoport, I.B., Vertical distribution of earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) в in the central part of the North Caucasus, Zool. Zh., 2013, vol. 92, no. 1, pp. 3–10.

  24. 24

    Rapoport, I.B., Biotopic distribution of earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in Teberda Nature Reserve with high protection level (Arkhyz site, Northwestern Caucasus), Materialy mezhregional’noi nauchno-prakticheskoi konferentsii “Sovremennye problemy osobo okhraniyaemykh prirodnykh territorii regional’nogo znacheniya i puti ikh resheniya,” g. Voronezh, 18 dekabrya 2014 g. (Proc. Interregional Sci.-Pract. Conf. “Modern Problems of Strictly Protected Regional Nature Areas and Their Solution,” Voronezh, December 18, 2014), Voronezh: Voronezh. Gos. Univ., 2014, pp. 214–218.

  25. 25

    Rapoport, I.B. and Tsepkova, N.L., Population structure and topical preferences of earthworms (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) in soils of standard forest formations in the basins of the Teberda and Bol’shaya Zelenchuk rivers (Teberda Nature Reserve, Northwestern Caucasus), Izv. Samar. Nauchn. Tsentra, Ross. Akad. Nauk, 2015, vol. 17, no. 6-1, pp. 33–39.

  26. 26

    Rapoport, I.B., Zenkova, I.V., and Tsepkova, N.L., Earthworm (Oligochaeta, Lumbricidae) populations of the Karasu River basin (Central Caucasus), Biol. Bull. (Moscow), 2017, vol. 44, no. 8, pp. 941–951.

  27. 27

    Scheu, S., Linkages between tree diversity, soil fauna and ecosystem processes, in Forest Diversity and Function: Temperate and Boreal Systems, Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2005, pp. 211–233.

  28. 28

    Scheu, S. and Falca, M., The soil food web of two beech forests (Fagus sylvatica) of contrasting humus type: stable isotope analysis of a macro-and a mesofauna-dominated community, Oecologia, 2000, vol. 123, no. 2, pp. 285–296.

  29. 29

    Seeber, J., Seeber, G.U.H., Kössler, W., Langel, R., Scheu, S., and Meyer, E., Abundance and trophic structure of macro-decomposers on alpine pastureland (Central Alps, Tyrol): effects of abandonment of pasturing, Pedobiologia, 2005, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 221–228.

  30. 30

    Shal’nev, V.A. and Yurin, D.V., Ancient glaciation and paleoglacial relief of Arkhyz, Nauka. Innovatsii. Tekhnol., 2014, no. 3, pp. 127–136.

  31. 31

    Smirnova, O.V. and Toropova, N.A., Potential ecosystem cover—a new approach to conservation biology, Russ. J. Ecosyst. Ecol., 2016, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1–20.

  32. 32

    Solomina, O.N., Dolgova, E.A., and Maksimova, O.E., Rekonstruktsiya gidrometeorologicheskikh uslovii poslednikh stoletii na Severnom Kavkaze, v Krymu i na Tyan’-Shane po dendrokhronologicheskim dannym (Reconstruction of Hydrometeorological Conditions of Last Centuries in North Caucasus, Crimea, and Tian Shan According to Dendrochronological Data), St. Petersburg: Nestor-Istoriya, 2012.

  33. 33

    Spirin, V.A. and Shirokov, A.I., The specific humification of wood felling in the virgin fir-spruce forests of Nizhny Novgorod oblast, Mikol. Fitopatol., 2002, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 25–31.

  34. 34

    Tumadzhanov, I.I., Forest vegetation of the Teberda River valley in terms of postglacial history of development of phytolandscapes, Tr. Tbilissk. Bot. Inst., 1947, vol. 11, pp. 1–106.

  35. 35

    Vasilevich, V.I. and Bibikova, T.V., Wood sorrel spruce forests in European Russia, Bot. Zh., 2004, vol. 89, no. 10, pp. 1573–1587.

  36. 36

    Vostochnoevropeiskie lesa: istoriya v golotsene i sovremennost’ (East European Forests: History in Holocene and in Present), Smirnova, O.V., Ed., Moscow: Nauka, 2004a, book 1.

  37. 37

    Vostochnoevropeiskie lesa: istoriya v golotsene i sovremennost’ (East European Forests: History in Holocene and in Present), Smirnova, O.V., Ed., Moscow: Nauka, 2004b, book 2.

  38. 38

    Vsevolodova-Perel’, T.S., Dozhdevye chervil fauny Rossii. Kadastr i opredelitel’ (Earthworms in Russian Fauna: Cadastre and Guide for Identification), Moscow: Nauka, 1997.

  39. 39

    Vsevolodova-Perel’, T.S., Addition to the fauna of earthworms (Lumbricidae) of the North Caucasus, Zool. Zh., 2003, vol. 82, no. 2, pp. 275–280.

  40. 40

    Wang, L.K., Hung, Y.-T., and Li, K.H., Vermicomposting process, in Biosolids Treatment Processes, Totowa: Humana, 2007, pp. 689–704.

  41. 41

    Zaugol’nova, L.B. and Martynenko, V.B., Guide for identification of forest types of European Russia, 2012. Accessed November 8, 2017.

Download references


The study was performed within the framework of the State Appointment to the Center for Forest Ecology and Productivity of the Russian Academy of Science, project no. 0110-2018-0007. Samples were collected with the financial support of the Russian Foundation of Basic Research, project no. 16-04-00395 A. The analysis of the material was funded by the grant of the Russian Science Foundation, project no. 16-17-10284.

Author information

Correspondence to A. P. Geras’kina.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Statement on the welfare of animals

This article does not contain any studies involving animals performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

Translated by V. Mittova

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Geras’kina, A.P., Shevchenko, N.E. Biotopic Association of Earthworms in Intact Forests of Teberda Nature Reserve. Contemp. Probl. Ecol. 12, 731–742 (2019).

Download citation


  • old growth forests
  • forest types
  • eco-coenotic structure
  • micromosaic structure
  • earthworms
  • Lumbricidae
  • microsites