Saturday, 27 August 2016

Glossiphonia balcanica & Dina prokletijaca: Two new species of Leech from the Balkan Peninsula.

Leeches, Hirudinida, are highly specialised Annelid Worms, related to Oligochaetes (Earthworms), or possibly a highly specialised group within the Oligochaeta. They are best known for the habit of sucking blood from Vertebrate animals, but many are carnivores, hunting and consuming Invertebrate prey. Most Leeches are found in freshwater environments, though marine and terrestrial forms are also known; many show remarkably sophisticated parental care for Annelid Worms. All Leeches, regardless of their diet, can be distinguished by the presence of two suckers, one at each end, and by their internal segmentation, which, unlike the segmentation seen in other Annelids, does not match the external segmentation.

In a paper published in the journal Ecologica Montenegrina on 10 July 2016, Clemens Grosser of Elstertrebnitz in Saxony (Germany), Vladamir Pešić of the Department of Biology at the University of Montenegro, Violata Berlajolli of the University of "Haxhi Zeka" and Bogić Gligorović, also of the Department of Biology at the University of Montenegro, describe two new species of Leech from Montenegro and Kosovo.

The first new species is placed within the Family Glossiphoniidae, flattened Leaches with reduced forward suckers that live in freshwater and typically feed on the blood of aquatic Vertebrates, assigned to the genus Glossiphonia and given the specific name balcanica, in reference to the Balkan Peninsula, where it was found. These are small almost disk-shaped Leeches, reaching 10 mm in length and 8 mm in width, amber in colour and having three pairs of eyes arranged in two rows. The species was found in fast-running waters in both Kosovo and Montenegro, being most abundant on the Mediterranean side of Montenegro.

Glossiphonia balcanica in dorsal view (inset: eyes). Grosser et al. (2016).

The second new species described is placed within the Family Erpobdellidae, elongate freshwater Leeches that hunt aquatic invertebrates rather than sucking blood, assigned to the genus Dina and given the specific name prokletijaca, after the Prokletije Mountain Range of the Western Balkan Peninsula, that runs from northern Albania to Kosovo and eastern Montenegro. These are small stocky |Leeches, reaching 23 mm in length and 4.5 mm in width. The are grey in colour with two dark stripes on their dorsal surface, and have greatly reduced eyes. The species was found around natural springs in deciduous Beech forests in the Prokletije Mountains of Kosovo.

Dina prokletijaca in (A) dorsal and (B) lateral views. Grosser et al. (2016).

See also...

http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/a-new-species-of-earthworm-from-spain.htmlA new species of Earthworm from Spain. Earthworms play a major role in the formation of soils in many parts of the world (though soils can and do form in there absence), ingesting and breaking larger...
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/two-new-species-of-earthworm-from-korea.htmlTwo new species of Earthworm from Korea. Earthworms play a major role in the formation of soils in many parts of the world (though soils can and do form in there absence), ingesting and breaking larger portions of organic material and producing a nitrogen rich humus. This role in soil formation makes them...
http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/new-species-of-carnivorous-leech-from.htmlNew species of carnivorous Leech from Taiwan.                                                    Leeches are a group of Annelid Worms (segmented Worms) best...
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