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Volume 72, Issue 4


Environmental factors determining the distribution pattern of leeches (Clitellata: Hirudinida) in large river systems: A case study of the Oder River system

Izabela Jabłońska-Barna / Aleksander Bielecki
  • Department of Zoology, University of Warmia and Mazury, Oczapowskiego Str. 5, 10-718, Olsztyn, Poland
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/ Joanna M. Cichocka / Edyta Buczyńska
  • Department of Zoology, Animal Ecology and Wildlife Management, University of Life Sciences, Akademicka Str. 13, 20-033 Lublin, Poland
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/ Pawel Buczyński
  • Department of Zoology, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Akademicka Str. 19, 20-033 Lublin, Poland
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/ Aldona Walerzak
  • Department of Zoology, University of Warmia and Mazury, Oczapowskiego Str. 5, 10-718, Olsztyn, Poland
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/ Agnieszka Szlauer-Łukaszewska
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Limnology, University of Szczecin, Wąska 13, 71-415 Szczecin, Poland
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Published Online: 2017-04-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/biolog-2017-0043


The largest rivers in Europe are under strong human pressure, resulting in habitat changes and consequently in structural changes in the quantitative and qualitative composition of fauna assemblages. The aim of this study was to identify the taxonomic structure of leech assemblages and the main environmental factors influencing their distribution pattern on a 306 km stretch of the Oder River encompassing different habitat types. Representatives of 28 leech taxa were recorded in 527 samples of bottom macrofauna. The most abundant and most frequently recorded species was the eurytopic Erpobdella octoculata, occurring in all examined habitat types. Although a significant influence of habitat type on the species composition of leech assemblages was noted, a significant positive correlation with habitat type was found only in the case of Piscicola pojmanskae and P. geometra. Our results show that abundance of food resources was the most important factor influencing the distribution of leeches.

Key words: Hirudinea; Piscicolidae; oxbow lake; groynes; habitat preferences; feeding connections


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About the article

Received: 2016-06-15

Accepted: 2017-03-05

Published Online: 2017-04-28

Published in Print: 2017-04-25

Citation Information: Biologia, Volume 72, Issue 4, Pages 407–416, ISSN (Online) 1336-9563, ISSN (Print) 0006-3088, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/biolog-2017-0043.

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Joanna M. Cichocka, Aleksander Bielecki, Marek Kulikowski, Izabela Jabłońska-Barna, and Katarzyna Najda
Biologia, 2018

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