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Freshwater Leeches of Britain and Ireland: Keys to the Hirudinea and a Review of their Ecology

Identification Key
Updating the 1979 key to British freshwater leeches, this guide features revised nomenclature and re-organised keys to provide the most up-to-date guide currently available

Series: Freshwater Biological Association Scientific Publications Volume: 69

By: JM Elliott(Author), Michael Dobson(Author), Alan Crowden(Editor)

108 pages, 4 colour photos, 34 b/w illustrations, 1 table

Freshwater Biological Association

Paperback | Sep 2015 | #226842 | ISBN-13: 9780900386824
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £31.99 $42/€36 approx

About this book

Leeches are instantly recognisable freshwater animals. The clear segmentation and presence of suckers at each end ensure that there are few other organisms with which they may be confused, although leeches attract a mixed response from those that encounter them. However, the authors hope that readers will come to recognise that leeches are 'worms of character', and probably represent the peak of annelid evolution. Leeches are sinuously elegant swimmers, and are often beautifully coloured. They have a compact, muscular body, and a well-developed nervous system with efficient sense organs. Therefore, they are very efficient at locating their prey, and are ideal subjects for the future study of predator-prey relationships both in the laboratory and the field. As leeches are hermaphrodites, there are no problems in having to separate the sexes, making them ideal subjects for the future study of their population dynamics.

Freshwater Leeches of Britain and Ireland is the fourth FBA Scientific Publication to provide an identification key to freshwater leeches, the most recent edition appearing in 1979. In this new version the nomenclature has been revised and the keys to species re-organised into a more logical progression. All the illustrations accompanying the keys are new and have been drawn by Mike Dobson. The ecology section, which has proved so useful in the previous edition, has been enlarged with the addition of over 200 references. The taxonomy of leeches in Europe is in a period of major change and invasive species, among leeches as with so many other organisms, are encroaching upon freshwater habitats across the continent, so these notes include comments on species that might be expected to appear in new locations in the coming years.

Overall this is a useful and important booklet and I have only one major comment, about a feature which this shares with so many other field keys. Although the paper is slightly glossy, it is not really sufficiently tough for use in field conditions and the 'perfect binding' is guaranteed to fail eventually, as the booklet is opened forcibly in field conditions. I wish that field keys were prepared so as to be used freely in the field. Surely this is how it should be! Nevertheless, I thoroughly recommend this."
– Mark Young, BES Bulletin 46(4), December 2015


Preface   7
Introduction   8
   Classification   9
   Check List   11
   Non-Native Species   13
   Structure   14
   Collection, examination and preservation   17
Notes on the use of the Key   18
Key to Families   21
Key to Species   23
   A Key to two Species of Piscicolidae   23
   A Key to eight Species of Glossiphoniidae   26
   A Key to two Species of Haemopidae and Hirudinidae   31
   A Key to five Species of Erpobdellidae   33
Leech cocoons and their Identification   36
Life cycles and ecology   38
   General aspects   38
   Family Piscicolidae   44
   Family Glossiphoniidae   46
   Family Haemopidae   60
   Family Hirudinidae   62
   Family Erpobdellidae   72
Conclusions and future directions   82
Acknowledgments   83
References   84
Index   106

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