Biodiversity Data Journal : Data Paper (Biosciences)
Data Paper (Biosciences)
A comprehensive dataset of the geophilid centipedes of the south-eastern Alps (Chilopoda, Geophilomorpha, Geophilidae s.l.)
expand article infoLuca Gregnanin, Lucio Bonato‡,§
‡ Università di Padova, Padova, Italy
§ National Biodiversity Future Centre, Palermo, Italy
Open Access



Centipedes of the family Geophilidae s.l. are widespread in the Holarctic, with the south-eastern part of the European Alps standing out as one of the most investigated regions. However, retrieving the published records for this taxon, even for this region, is challenging, since most of them are sparse in the specialised literature and interpreting them is hampered by the many taxonomic and nomenclatorial changes occurred in the past and recent times.

New information

We assembled and released a dataset of occurrence records of the geophilid species in the south-eastern Alps, including all the published records and many other records present in unpublished catalogues of scientific collections. For each record, we integrated information from all the sources about: locality, date of collection, the taxonomic identifications, number and sex of individuals and available sequences of molecular markers. For all the records, we estimated geographic coordinates of the locality, when not originally provided, based on the information available. We also estimated the accuracy of the position.

The dataset includes 3293 records referred to 39 species, obtained since the first half of the 19th century and up to 2022; 52% of these records have been released publicly for the first time in the dataset here described.


Geophilidae, Chilopoda, south-eastern Alps, georeferenced dataset, records, Darwin Core


The Geophilidae s.l. is a large lineage of centipedes mainly found throughout the Holarctic with nearly 700 recognised species, some of them traditionally separated in different families (Bonato et al. 2011a, Bonato et al. 2014).

The diversity of geophilids has been studied to varying degrees in different regions. The south-eastern part of the European Alps stands out as one of the most intensely investigated regions. Here, the earliest published records of geophilids date back to the 19th century (e.g., Koch (1847), Koch (1863), Meinert (1870), Fanzago (1874), Fanzago (1876), Fedrizzi (1876a), Fedrizzi (1876b)) and further sampling activities have been carried out until the present. As a result, about 25 species of geophilids are usually reported to occur in the south-eastern Alps (e.g., Zapparoli (1989)), amongst the approximately 130 species known from the whole of Europe (Bonato and Minelli 2014).

However, even within this region, the taxonomy of some groups of species is still imprecise and most probably inaccurate and the actual number of species remains to be clarified (e.g., in the genera Geophilus and Stenotaenia; Bonato and Minelli (2009), Del Latte et al. (2015)). Moreover, the known distribution of some species across the south-eastern Alps relies only on a few dozen published records and is, therefore, possibly underestimated (e.g., the rarely recorded Eurygeophilus pinguis, Bonato et al. (2006)). On the other hand, the occurrence of other species needs confirmation, since it is based on only 1-2 records with uncertain identification (e.g., for Henia bicarinata, usually associated with coastal habitats, but recorded in a few cases in mountain regions where other similar species might occur; Magnolini and Bonato (2023)).

Most of the published information about the presence, distribution and ecology of geophilids in the south-eastern Alps is scattered throughout many national or regional journals, in many cases difficult to retrieve, because they are not indexed in modern digital bibliographic catalogues and are not yet available in public digital archives. Indeed, in the last decades, a few synoptic works, with broader taxonomic and geographic scopes, summarised the published records of geophilids species in the south-eastern Alps, providing textual lists of new occurrence records (Zapparoli 1989, Minelli 1992) or a digital catalogue of records mapped on a coarse grid (Zapparoli and Minelli 2005). Since the release of these synopses, however, several taxonomic and nomenclatural changes affected many genera and species (Bonato et al. 2006, Bonato and Minelli 2008, Bonato et al. 2011b, Bonato and Minelli 2014, Peretti and Bonato 2016, Peretti et al. 2022, Bonato et al. 2023).

Here, we present a comprehensive, updated and newly-georeferenced dataset of occurrence records of Geophilidae s.l. from the south-eastern Alps. It includes all the published records, to the best of our knowledge, and many other records retrieved from the catalogues of many major scientific collections hosting relevant specimens (either unpublished catalogues or catalogues available online). For each record, we provided information on locality, date, collector/s, number of individuals recorded, their sex, habitat in which the animals were found and identifiers of published genetic sequences. On top of the original identification, we provided also the different identifications published in subsequent sources and the valid scientific name (according to the taxonomy currently in use) for the species to which each record was assigned in its latest citation.

Project description


A comprehensive dataset of the geophilid centipedes of the south-eastern Alps (Chilopoda, Geophilomorpha, Geophilidae s.l.)


Luca Gregnanin, Lucio Bonato.

Study area description: 

The study area (Fig. 1) covers the south-eastern part of the European Alps. In detail, the study area includes the following "Sections" of the SOIUSA partition of the Alps (Marazzi 2005): Brescia and Garda Prealps, Southern Rhaetian Alps, Venetian Prealps, Dolomites, Carnic and Gailtal Alps, Julian Alps and Prealps, Slovene Prealps, Carinthian–Slovenian Alps. It also encompasses all the major marginal or isolated reliefs along the southern border. To account for the positional uncertainty of the records, we also included in the dataset the records whose estimated position falls within a 10 km marginal buffer (Fig. 1).

Figure 1.  

Study area. Inner boundaries follow the SOIUSA sections included in the study area and the southern orographic margins; outer boundaries include a 10 km buffer. Map tiles by ESRI, World Physical Map.

Geographic coverage


South-eastern part of the European Alps. For further details, see "Study area description".


45.1287 and 46.9219 Latitude; 15.8613 and 9.9074 Longitude.

Taxonomic coverage


Geophilidae Leach, 1816, sensu Bonato et al. (2014), i.e., including the species formerly separated in the families Dignathodontidae Cook, 1896 (within the study area: Dignathodon microcephalus and Henia spp.) and Linotaeniidae Cook, 1899 (within the study area: Strigamia spp.).

Taxa included:
Rank Scientific Name
superclass Myriapoda
class Chilopoda
order Geophilomorpha
family Geophilidae Leach, 1816
genus Acanthogeophilus Minelli, 1982
genus Clinopodes C.L. Koch, 1847
genus Dignathodon Meinert, 1870
genus Eurygeophilus Verhoeff, 1899
genus Geophilus Leach, 1814
genus Henia C.L. Koch, 1847
genus Pachymerium C.L. Koch, 1847
genus Pleurogeophilus Verhoeff, 1901
genus Stenotaenia C.L. Koch, 1847
genus Strigamia Gray, 1843
species Clinopodes carinthiacus (Latzel, 1880)
species Clinopodes flavidus C.L. Koch, 1847
species Clinopodes rodnaensis (Verhoeff, 1938)
species Clinopodes strasseri (Verhoeff, 1938)
species Clinopodes vesubiensis Bonato, Iorio & Minelli, 2011
species Dignathodon microcephalus (Lucas, 1846)
species Eurygeophilus pinguis (Brölemann, 1898)
species Geophilus carnicus Verhoeff, 1928
species Geophilus carpophagus Leach, 1815
species Geophilus electricus (Linnaeus,1758)
species Geophilus flavus (De Geer, 1778)
species Geophilus impressus C.L. Koch, 1847
species Geophilus labrofissus Verhoeff, 1938
species Geophilus minimus Verhoeff, 1928
species Geophilus oligopus (Attems, 1895)
species Geophilus piae Minelli, 1983
species Geophilus proximus C.L. Koch, 1847
species Geophilus pusillifrater Verhoeff, 1898
species Geophilus pygmaeus Latzel, 1880
species Geophilus truncorum Bergsøe & Meinert, 1866
species Henia bicarinata (Meinert, 1870)
species Henia brevis (Silvestri, 1896)
species Henia illyrica (Meinert, 1870)
species Henia montana (Meinert, 1870)
species Henia vesuviana (Newport, 1845)
species Pachymerium ferrugineum (C.L. Koch, 1835)
kingdom Pleurogeophilus mediterraneus (Meinert, 1870)
species Stenotaenia linearis (C.L. Koch, 1835)
species Stenotaenia romana (Silvestri, 1895)
species Stenotaenia sorrentina (Attems, 1903)
species Strigamia acuminata (Leach, 1816)
species Strigamia carniolensis (Verhoeff, 1895)
species Strigamia crassipes (C.L. Koch, 1835)
species Strigamia engadina (Verhoeff, 1935)

Temporal coverage

Living time period: 
Between XIX century and 2022.

Usage licence

Usage licence: 
IP rights notes: 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 4.0) Licence.

Data resources

Data package title: 
Geophilidae of south-eastern Alps
Alternative identifiers: 
Number of data sets: 
Data set name: 
Character set: 
Data format: 
TSV (tab-separated) text file
Column label Column description
occurrenceID An identifier for the dwc:Occurrence (as opposed to a particular digital record of the dwc:Occurrence). Value: a text in the format "R####" (#: 0-9).
basisOfRecord The specific nature of the data record. Value: "MaterialCitation", "PreservedSpecimen".
ownerInstitutionCode The name in use by the institution (reported as) having ownership of the object(s) or information referred to in the record. Value: a text.
collectionCode The name identifying the collection from which the record was derived. Value: a text.
catalogNumber An identifier for the record within the data set or collection. Value: a text.
recordedBy A list (concatenated and separated) of names of people responsible for recording the original dwc:Occurrence. Value: a list separated by " | ", including the surname and the first letter of the name (when known) of each person; ordered alphabetically.
occurrenceRemarks Comments or notes about the dwc:Occurrence. Value: a text.
eventDate The date-time or interval during which a dwc:Event occurred. For occurrences, this is the date-time when the dwc:Event was recorded. Value: a date or time interval conforming ISO 8601-1:2019.
eventRemarks Comments or notes about the dwc:Event. Value: a possible eventDate for the dwc:Event.
higherGeography A geographic name less specific than the information captured in the dwc:locality term. Value: the name of the alpine "section" according to the SOIUSA partition of the Alps, preceded by "near" for the records falling outside the conventional borders of the section.
verbatimLocality The original textual description of the place. Value: a text.
locality The specific description of the place. Value: the current name of the locality in the main national language(s) of the country to which the locality belongs.
decimalLatitude The geographic latitude (in decimal degrees, using the spatial reference system WGS84) of the geographic center of a dcterms:Location. Value: a number.
decimalLongitude The geographic longitude (in decimal degrees, using the spatial reference system WGS84) of the geographic center of a dcterms:Location. Value: a number.
geodeticDatum The spatial reference system (SRS) upon which the geographic coordinates given in dwc:decimalLatitude and dwc:decimalLongitude are based. Value: for all the records with geographic coordinates, "WGS84".
coordinateUncertaintyInMeteres The horizontal distance (in meters) from the given dwc:decimalLatitude and dwc:decimalLongitude describing the smallest circle containing the whole of the dcterms:Location. Value: a number.
georeferenceRemarks Notes or comments about the spatial description determination. Value: a text.
minimumElevationInMeteres The lower limit of the range of elevation (altitude, usually above sea level), in meters. Value: a number.
maximumElevationInMeteres The upper limit of the range of elevation (altitude, usually above sea level), in meters. Value: a number.
habitat A category or description of the habitat in which the dwc:Event occurred. Value: names of plant genera or species, names of phytosociological entities, or other.
verbatimIdentification A string representing the taxonomic identification as it appeared in the original record. Value: text.
identifiedBy A list (concatenated and separated) of names of people who assigned the dwc:Taxon to the subject. Value: a list separated by " | ", including the surname and the first letter of the name (when known) of each person; ordered alphabetically; only reported for unpublished records.
dateIdentified The date on which the subject was determined as representing the dwc:Taxon. Value: a date or time interval conforming ISO 8601-1:2019; only reported for unpublished records.
scientificName The full scientific name, with authorship and date information. Value: the taxonomic name currently considered valid for the taxon indicated in the verbatimIdentification or for the taxon under which the record was identified in its last citation.
taxonRank The taxonomic rank of the most specific name in the dwc:scientificName. Value: "family", "genus", "species".
identificationRemarks Comments or notes about the dwc:Identification. Value: a text.
taxonRemarks Comments or notes about the taxon or name. Value: a text.
identificationQualifier A brief phrase or a standard term ("cf.", "aff.") to express the doubts about the dwc:scientificName. Value: "cf.".
individualCount The number of individuals present at the time of the dwc:Occurrence. Value: a number.
sex The sex of the biological individual(s) represented in the dwc:Occurrence. Value: "male", "female", their concatenation through " | ".
organismRemarks Comments or notes about the dwc:Organism instance. Value: possible individualCount for the dwc:Organism. Value: a text.
associatedReferences A list (concatenated and separated) of identifiers (publication, bibliographic reference, global unique identifier, URI) of literature associated with the dwc:Occurrence. Value: a list separated by " | " of complete citations of all the published sources citing the record; ordered chronologically.
dynamicProperties A list of additional or amending identifications, dates and localities provided in publications other than the original source. Value: a key:value pair dictionary with keys including author-date references cited in dwc:associatedReferences and values including the additional or amending information.
associatedSequences A list (concatenated and separated) of identifiers (publication, global unique identifier, URI) of genetic sequence information associated with the dwc:MaterialEntity. Value: a structured text: "marker: [list separated by " | " of GenBank urls].

Additional information

Source of records, temporal coverage and contents of the dataset

For our purpose, a record was intended as any report of the finding of one or more individuals of a species in a single location and in a single day.

We searched for all the original records of Geophilidae s.l. in the study area browsing the whole scientific literature reporting records of Chilopoda published up to 2023, however ignoring graduation theses. We also gathered records from the digital catalogues of the major scientific collections of research institutions known to host relevant myriapodological collections and expected to include specimens from the study area: the "Chilobio" centipede collection of the Animal Ecology Group, University of Ljubljana (Ravnjak and Kos 2015); the Bonato-Minelli collection (preserved at the Department of Biology, University of Padova); the collections of the Museo di Storia Naturale di Milano; Museo Civico di Scienze Naturali "E. Caffi" di Bergamo; Museo di Storia Naturale, Verona; Museo Friulano di Storia Naturale, Udine; Naturhistorisches Museum Wien; and Zoologische Staatssammlung München (retrieved from GBIF: Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns (2014)).

The "original source" of a record was intended as the earliest publication reporting the record, if any.

Records were included in the dataset when they were accompanied by at least an indication of the locality (e.g., textual indications, codes of geographical units or geographic coordinates) and a taxonomic identification at the genus level or more precise.

Additional information digitised for each record included any indication, either published in the original source or available from other sources on: time of the recording event (e.g., date, period), habitat (e.g., phytosociological entities, names of plant genera or species type of soil), number and sex of the individuals and the GenBank urls of the available sequences of the main molecular markers employed in molecular taxonomy, phylogeography and population genetics of centipedes, namely the "barcode fragment" of COI, the 16S, 18S and 28S markers, obtained from collected specimens associated with the record. We also queried the BOLD and GenBank databases for additional sequences.

For the name and the structure of the columns of the dataset, we followed the Darwin Core standard (Wieczorek et al. 2012).

Georeferencing of the records

For each record, the locality where the animals were found was reported as spelled in the original source (in the column "verbatimLocality). A name of the locality was also provided in the main official language(s) of the country to which the locality belongs (in the column "locality"). These latter names were searched in institutional sources (e.g., websites of local administrative institutions) and in topographic maps (e.g., for Italy, the "Carta Topografica d'Italia" map at the scale 1:25000, available as a Web Map Service at WMS_v1.3/raster/

For each record, the georeferencing of the locality was reported following the "point-radius" method (Wieczorek et al. 2004) by which the locality is associated with: (i) a coordinate pair (latitude and longitude) of the estimated locality and (ii) a linear distance ("radius"), which indicates the uncertainty of the position. The geographic coordinates were reported either as provided in the original or other sources (if available and reliable) or estimated by us by searching in open-access databases (e.g., OpenStreetMap,, or topographic maps. The uncertainty of the coordinates was estimated for all records: when coordinates were provided, but without their uncertainty, this latter was set to 50 m, a reasonable value for a GPS reading uncertainty in mountain settings and for the precision of topographic maps of the region; when coordinates were not provided, their uncertainty was estimated, based on the textual indication of the locality, also taking into account other available information (e.g., the elevation) and the probable meaning given by the authors of the records to the locality names.

Taxonomy and nomenclature

For each record, we reported the taxonomic name used in the original source (in the column "verbatimIdentification"), other names used for the record in subsequent publications (in the column "dynamicProperties"), and the name currently considered valid for the most recent identification (in the column "scientificName").

For the scientificName, we followed the "Checklist of the Italian Fauna" (Bonato and Minelli 2021) as the main source for taxonomy and nomenclature. For species not included in the Checklist (e.g., species only occurring in the non-Italian part of the study area), we mainly followed Bonato and Minelli (2014). However, we provisionally maintained Geophilus carnicus as a valid species, following Peretti and Bonato (2016). We acknowledged Geophilus impressus as the valid name for the species referred to as Geophilus alpinus in the Checklist, following an ICZN opinion (ICZN 2020). We used the name Clinopodes strasseri for a species formerly considered a synonym of Clinopodes carinthiacus and recently recognised as a different species (Peretti et al. 2022). Finally, for the species of Strigamia, we followed the revised and provisional taxonomy and nomenclature by Bonato et al. (2023), and some of the names (Strigamia acuminata, Strigamia carniolensis, and Strigamia crassipes) are intended as species complexes instead of species.

We reported many records of Henia and Geophilus, attributed to four putative undescribed species in their original sources, as identified to the genus level in scientificName. They have been flagged with the provisional labels Henia sp.1, Geophilus sp.1, Geophilus sp. 2. and Geophilus sp.3 in the column "taxonRemarks".

Description of the dataset

The dataset includes 3293 records, based on about 7700 collected specimens. They are assigned to 39 species or species–species complexes of Geophilidae s.l., of which four putative species are still undescribed.

A total of 1595 records (48%) were already published, while the remaining 1698 are here released for the first time, being only found in unpublished catalogues of scientific collections. The already published records were found in 86 publications since 1847 (a complete list of references is available in Suppl. material 1).

The geographic distribution of the records is heterogeneous (Fig. 2): records are denser in the southern part of the study area, a pattern especially evident for the previously unpublished records.

Figure 2.  

Geographic distribution of the records. Each cell has an area of ~ 40 km2. The colour of each cell is associated with the number of records already published (increasing yellow intensity) and to the number of records not yet published (increasing blue intensity). Cells without colour have no records.

For 1830 records (56%), the uncertainty of the geographic coordinates was ≤ 500 m (Fig. 3). Instead, 64 records were not georeferenced since the locality indication did not allow us to estimate the coordinates with an uncertainty lower than 100 km.

Figure 3.  

Frequency distribution of the uncertainty of the position of the records (only records with uncertainty < 100 km were georeferenced and are included in this plot). The inset illustrates the uncertainty of the coordinates of each record (records are arranged from the least to the most accurate on the x-axis; note the logarithmic scale on the y-axis).

The oldest record in the dataset dates to 1847 or before (Koch 1847). In the following period, up to about 1970, approximately 500 other records of Geophilidae centipedes from our study area were published, although, in most of the cases, without a precise indication of the recording year. The rate of collection and release of new records increased significantly during the 1970s and since then, more than 2400 records have been collected (Fig. 4).

Figure 4.  

Frequency distribution of the years when the specimens were recorded. Records with uncertain year were excluded when the uncertainty spanned more than two decades.


We are grateful to Nesrine Akkari (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien), Paolo Glerean (Museo Friulano di Storia Naturale, Udine), Ivan and Anja Kos (Animal Ecology Group, University of Ljubljana), Leonardo Latella and Roberta Salmaso (Museo di Storia Naturale, Verona), Monica Leonardi (Museo di Storia Naturale di Milano) and Paolo Pantini (Museo Civico di Scienze Naturali "E. Caffi", Bergamo) for providing us with the access to the digital catalogues of the collections under their supervision. We thank Emiliano Peretti and Roberto Magnolini for their suggestions and help in checking the records of some of the species.

We thank Robert Mesibov for his help and suggestions in the structure and cleaning of the dataset, and Stylianos Simaiakis and Ivan Hadrián Tuf, as reviewers of this paper, for their suggestions in the main text and supplementary material.

This research was supported by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (project funded by the European Union - Next Generation EU: “PNRR Missione 4 Componente 2, “Dalla ricerca all’impresa”, Investimento 1.4, Progetto CN00000033”).


Supplementary material

Suppl. material 1: Bibliographic references of the dataset 
Authors:  Luca Gregnanin, Lucio Bonato
Data type:  Bibliographic references
Brief description: 

The file includes all the references reporting original records included in the dataset or citing the records with new or amending information.

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