LEECHES (HIRUDINIDA) OF THE NORTH CENTRAL UNITED STATES
Leeches (Hirudinida) are an important component of most freshwater lakes, ponds, and quieter flowing streams and rivers with many important species occurring in the north central 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. Leeches can be recognized by having segmented bodies (annelids) with anterior and posterior suckers. They feed by a variety of methods, including: using a proboscis, engulfing their prey, and biting, with either two or three jaws. Identification of leeches can often be difficult due to problems with properly collecting and preserving specimens and the specialized nature of keys. The goal of this presentation is to provide information on how to collect, preserve and identify freshwater leeches as well as provide updates relating to recent changes in leech classification relating to the north central United States, however, most of this will also apply to other parts of North America.
Fredric Govedich (Primary Presenter/Author), Southern Utah University, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Bonnie Bain (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Dixie State University, email@example.com;