Influence of seasonal and edaphic factors on the diversity of scolopendromorph centipedes (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha) and general observations on their ecology from Kerala, India

Main Article Content

Dhanya Balan
P. M. Sureshan


Scolopendromorph centipedes (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha) are a diverse group of invertebrate communities, which play significant, but often poorly acknowledged or understood roles in the delivery of soil ecosystem services.  In the present paper we analyze the impact of seasonal and edaphic factors on the species diversity of scolopendromorph centipedes based on the field studies conducted in three selected sites.  The study sites included a protected forest ecosystem, an undisturbed isolated hillock and a residential plot at Kozhikode District, Kerala, India.  The study was performed from April 2011 to November 2012.  Overall 486 individuals belonging to 18 species under the families Cryptopidae and Scolopendridae were collected.  The range of Shannon-Wiener diversity was 0.89–2.58 and Simpson diversity was 1.91–13.69.  Species diversity is also influenced by variations in seasons and various physico–chemical properties of soil in the study area. General observations on parental care, moulting, hibernation and ectoparasitism were also included.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Dhanya Balan, Western Ghat Regional Centre, Zoological Survey of India, Calicut 673006, Kerala, India Phone:20495-2770101(Office) Phd. Scholar, University of Calicut, Kerala, India

Phd. Scholar,

Western Ghat Regional Centre, Zoological Survey of India, Calicut 673006, Kerala, India


P. M. Sureshan, Western Ghat Regional Centre, Zoological Survey of India, Calicut 673006, Kerala, India Phone:20495-2770101(Office)

Scientist D & Officer-in-Charge

Western Ghat Regional Centre, Zoological Survey of India, Calicut 673006, Kerala, India


Abrahamsen, G. (1971). The influence of temperature and soil moisture on the population density of Cognettia sphagnetorum (Oligochaeta: Lumbricidae) in cultures with homogenized raw humus. Pedobiologia 11: 417–424.

Attems, C. (1930). Myriopoda. 2. Scolopendromorpha. Das Tierreich. De Gruyter, Berlin, 308pp.

Bücherl, W. (1946). Novidades systematics na ordem Scolopendromorpha. Memórias do Instituto de Butantan 19: 135–157.

Chagas-J, A., G.D. Edgecombe & A. Minelli (2008). Variability in trunk segmentation in the centipede order Scolopendromorpha: a remarkable new species of Scolopendropsis Brandt (Chilopoda: Scolopendridae) from Brazil. Zootaxa 1888: 36–46;

Colwell, R.K. (2009). EstimateS: Statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples. Version 8.2. User’s Guide and application published at:

Dhanya, B., P.M. Sureshan & K. Vinod (2012). A new species of centipede of the genus Cryptops Leach (Scolopendromorpha: Cryptopidae) from southern Western Ghats with a key to the species of Cryptops in India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 4(4): 2510–2514;

Edgecombe, G.D., L. Bonato & G. Giribet (2010). Brooding in Mecistocephalus togensis (Geophilomorpha: Placodesmata) and the evolution of parental care in centipedes (Chilopoda). International Journal of Myriapodology 3(2): 139–144;

Hammer, Ø., D.A.T. Harper & P.D. Ryan (2001). PAST: Paleontological statistics software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica 4(1): retrieved from

IBOY (2000). Soil macrofauna: an endangered resource in a changing world. Report of an international workshop held at IRD, Bondy (France) 19–23 June 2000. Downloadable at URL:–report.pdf

Jabin, M., D. Mohr, H. Kappes & W. Topp (2004). Influence of deadwood on density of soil macro-arthropods in a managed oak-beech forest. Forest Ecology and Management 194: 61–69.

Jangi, B.S. & C.M.S. Dass (1984). Scolopendridae of the Deccan. Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research 43(1): 27–54.

Jones, C.G., J.H. Lawton & M. Shachack (1997). Positive and negative effects of organisms as physical ecosystem engineers. Ecology 78(7): 1946–1957.

Khanna, V. (2008). National Register of the valid species of Scolopendrid centipedes (Chilopoda: Scolpendromorpha) in India. Biosystematica 1(2): 33–45.

Kirby, K.R. & C. Potvin (2007). Variation in carbon storage among tree species: Implications for the management of a small-scale carbon sink project. Forest Ecology and Management 246(2–3): 208–221.

Kraepelin, K. (1903). Revision der Scolopendriden (Scolopendromorpha). The Mitteilungen aus dem Hamburgischen Zoologischen Museum 20: 1–276.

Lavelle, P. & A.V. Spain (2001). Soil Ecology. Kluwer Scientific Publication, Amsterdam, NL, 153pp.

Leach, W.E. (1817). The zoological miscellany, being the descriptions of new and interesting animals. III. XII. In: The Characters of the Genera of the Class Myriopoda. Taylor, London, 3: 36.

Lewis, J.G.E. (1972). The population density and biomass of the centipede Scolopendra amazonica (Bücherl) (Scolopndromorpha: Scolopendridae) in sahel savannah Nigeria. Entomologists Monthly Magazine 108: 16–18.

Lewis, J.G.E. (1981). The Biology of Centipedes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 457pp.

Lewis, J.G.E. (2002). The true identity of the Ethiopian centipede Scolopendra gardullana Attems (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha; Scolopendridae). African Invertebrates 43: 1–31.

Lewis, J.G.E. (2010). A revision of the rugulosus group of Otostigmus subgenus Otostigmus Porat, 1876 (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha: Scolopendridae). Zootaxa 2579: 1–29

Minelli, A., A. Chagas-Júnior & G.D. Edgecombe (2009). Saltational evolution of trunk segment number in centipedes. Evolution & Development 11(3): 318–322;

Moreira, F.M.S., E.J. Huising & D.E. Bignell (2008). A Handbook of Tropical Soil and Biology: Sampling and Characterization of Below-ground Biodiversity. Earthscan, London, UK, 218pp.

Pereira, L.A. (2000). The preparation of centipedes for microscopical examination with particular reference to the Geophilomorpha. Bulletin of the British Myriapod and Isopod Group, 16: 22–25.

Pocock, R.I. (1891). Notes on the synonymy of some species of Scolopendridae with descriptions of new genera and species of the group. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 6(7): 51–58; 221–231.

Porat, C.O. (1876). On nagra exotica Myriapoder. Kungl Svenka vetenskapsakademiens handlingar 4(7): 1–48.

Rajulu, G.S. (1973). Moulting, moult cycle of a centipede Ethmostigmus spinosus (Chilopoda: Myriapoda). Current Science 42: 205–206.

Raman, T.R.S. & D. Mudappa (2003). Bridging the gap: Sharing responsibility for ecological restoration and wildlife conservation on private lands in the Western Ghats. Social Change 33(2&3): 129–141.

Shakir, M.M. & S. Ahmed (2015). Seasonal abundance of soil arthropods in relation to meteorological and edaphic factors in the agroecosystems of Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan. International Journal of Biometeorology 59(5): 605–16;

Sureshan, P.M., V. Khanna & C. Radhakrishnan (2006). Additional distributional records of scolopendrid centipedes (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha) from Kerala. Zoos’ Print Journal 21(6): 2285–2291;

Tilak, R. & P. Roy (1988). On an interesting case of parental care and distribution of Cormocephalus dentipes Pocock (Chilopoda: Scolopendromorpha: Scolopendridae). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 85(1): 228–229.

Yadav, B.E. (1994). The scolopendrid centipedes. Science and Culture 60(6–12): 77–79.