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Naturwissenschaften. 2012 May;99(5):433-4. doi: 10.1007/s00114-012-0906-4. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

The Hirudo medicinalis species complex.

Abstract

Recently, Hildebrandt and Lemke (Naturwissenschaften 98:995-1008, 2011) argued that the taxonomic status of the three European medicinal leeches, Hirudo medicinalis Linnaeus 1758, Hirudo verbana Carena 1820, and Hirudo orientalis Utevsky and Trontelj (Parasitol Res 98:61-66, 2005) is "questionable" since "all three species interbreed in the laboratory". This statement is in conflict with data published by Elliott and Kutschera (Freshwater Reviews 4:21-41, 2011), indicating that these leeches, which are reciprocally copulating hermaphrodites, represent reproductively isolated biospecies. Here, I summarize evidence indicating that these three European taxa, plus the North African "dragon leech" (Hirudo troctina Johnson 1816), must be interpreted as a complex of closely related species, and that the economically most important taxon H. verbana is polymorphic.

PMID:
22532303
DOI:
10.1007/s00114-012-0906-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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