TENDER LOVING LEECHES
Leeches (Hirudinida) are an important component of most freshwater lakes, ponds, and quieter flowing streams and rivers with many important species occurring throughout the United States. There are approximately one hundred described species in North America with the majority of these leeches being predators that feed on a variety of invertebrate prey including chironomids, oligochaetes, amphipods, and molluscs. Many other leech species are temporary sanguivorous (blood-feeding) ectoparasites of vertebrates including fish, turtles, amphibians, waterfowl, and mammals including humans. One aspect of leech biology that is often ignored is their reproductive biology. Leeches are simultaneous hermaphrodites that produce an egg-containing cocoon. Many species provide nutrients in the cocoon and then abandon it, leaving the young leeches to fend for themselves after hatching. One family, the Glossiphoniidae, have a different strategy: they have extended post-hatching parental care. In this family we have species that nest or brood the eggs and young for day or even weeks. Here we present information on these leeches and show how they can be interesting study organisms for examining parental care in invertebrates.
Fredric Govedich (Primary Presenter/Author), Southern Utah University, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Bonnie Bain (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Dixie State University, email@example.com;