Size structures and comparative phenology of syntopic populations of Hirudo verbana and Hirudo medicinalis in eastern Ukraine
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Ranges of different species of medicinal leeches (Hirudo spp.) are nearly mutually exclusive with very few areas of overlapping. This biogeographical pattern suggests different ecological requirements for the two species. However, two habitats in Hungary and Ukraine where populations of H. verbana and H. medicinalis coexist were found. The aim of this research was to reveal differences in size structures and phenologies between the two species in a steppe pond with two populations. The study was conducted from March to September in 2009 and 2010 in Horila Dolyna, Kharkiv Region. Leeches were collected several times during the season, weighed and released. The abundance of H. verbana was always higher. The Mann-Whitney U-test and the Wilcoxon test were applied. Significant differences between sequential samples within the species were found. The large weight classes of H. verbana emerged by the end of summer and caused a higher variance in contrast to H. medicinalis. This suggests the higher growth rate and the more r-strategic biology of H. verbana in comparison with the largely K-strategic H. medicinalis.
Key wordswetlands Hirudo verbena Hirudo medicinalis medicinal leech phenology
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