I came to the University of Waterloo, Canada on April 28, 1997 for a three month stay and started work on aquatic oligochaetes in Professor C.H. Fernando’s laboratory. A total of 8,323 samples from over 21 countries in tropical and sub-tropical regions were examined and aquatic oligochaetes were sorted.

The Tonolli Memorial Fellowship helped me to come to the University of Waterloo and support my research. Additional funds were provided by the Department of Biology, University of Waterloo and by Professor Fernando.

During my stay in Waterloo, I acquired experience on aquatic oligochaete systematics and became familiar with relevant literature in this field. I visited the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and worked with Mr. Don Staecy on techniques for studying oligochaetes. Professor R.O. Brinkhurst provided some valuable advice.

In Sri Lanka I am continuing to research the geographical distribution patterns of the oligochaetes. I also acquired a large collection of aquatic oligochaetes from Ethiopian lakes through the courtesy of Professor C. Tudorancea, now at the University of Cluj, Romania.

The knowledge that I gained from this study is useful in my duties as Regional Officer of the Marine Pollution Prevention Authority in Sri Lanka, because the investigation of the ecology and distribution of aquatic oligochaetes is a tool to detect pollution. Organic pollution of rivers, reservoirs, lagoons, estuaries and coastal areas in Sri Lanka, due to various anthropogenic activities, is a severe threat to the biological diversity of the country, especially in urban areas.

G. Ajith Weerasundara
Marine Pollution Prevention Authority
Sri Lanka