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SP69. Freshwater Leeches of Britain and Ireland: Keys to the Hirudinea and a Review of their Ecology



Published by The Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside, August 2015
108 pages. Softback. Size 246 x 171mm.
ISBN 978-0-900386-82-4
ISSN 0367-1887

Price £27.00 plus p&p

Order code SP69.
Members are entitled to a 25% discount.

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.

This volume 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.

(This book was produced thanks to a grant from The Fishmongers' Company.)

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