ISSN 1067-4136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2009, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 111–115. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2009.
Original Russian Text © L.V. Chernaya, L.A. Koval’chuk, 2009, published in Ekologiya, 2009, No. 2, pp. 122–126.
Leeches as benthic organisms are an important link
in trophic chains of aquatic ecosystems of different
types: these predators and bloodsuckers that attack var-
ious groups of hydrobionts are themselves prey to many
ﬁsh species, muskrats, otters, mink, etc. (Lukin, 1976;
Lapkina et al., 2005). Some species of predatory
leeches perform a sanitary function in water bodies,
feeding on carrion (Lyabzina and Uzenbaev, 2005).
In addition, leeches are accessory and intermediate
hosts of many parasites (Lukin, 1976; Herter, 1968).
The fauna of leeches in the Ural Region has not been
studied sufﬁciently, and this fact determined the direc-
tion of our research: to study the species composition of
leeches and speciﬁc features of their occurrence and
distribution in water bodies of a large industrial center,
the city of Yekaterinburg and its vicinity (Chernaya,
2000; Chernaya and Koval’chuk, 2000, 2003;
Koval’chuk and Chernaya, 2003).
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The material was collected during ﬁeld seasons
(May–October) of the years 1999–2006. The littoral
parts of 25 water objects in Yekaterinburg and its vicin-
ity were studied (ﬁgure), 240 collections were made,
and more than 10 000 adult leeches of different species
Taking into account speciﬁc biological features of
these animals (leeches have suckers and remain
attached to the substrate most of the time), they were
collected by hand from submerged stones, snags, and
other objects, preferable from their lower, poorly illu-
minated sides. In addition, leeches occurred on aquatic
plants, mainly in leaf axils and on old submerged stems.
Censuses of leeches were taken in water bodies
characterized by the highest abundance of dominant
species in the ﬁrst-ten day period of August. We used
the procedure recommended by Mann (1955), record-
ing the numbers of leeches of certain species caught
from 1 m
of the bottom over 1 h.
All collections were analyzed to reveal dominant
species as well as the quantitative and qualitative com-
position of hirudofauna in each water body.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
According to our data, the hirudofauna of aquatic
objects in Yekaterinburg and its vicinity comprises ten
species of four families (Table 1):
O.F. Müller 1774 (Glossi-
L. 1758 (Ichthyobdel-
Savigny, 1822 (Erpobdel-
L. 1758 (Hiru-
Two species proved to be most widespread, the
(found in 24 water bodies) and
(found in 20 water
bodies). The former was also most abundant, account-
ing for 36.6% of the total number of leeches caught,
while the latter accounted for 11.6%. Fairly common in
the fauna of leeches in Yekaterinburg and its vicinity are
(found in 19 water bodies, 9.7%
of the total catch) and
(found in 13 water
bodies); in the majority of water bodies, however, they
are less abundant than the previous species. It should be
reaches a peak of development
Distribution of Leeches in Aquatic Ecosystems
of the City of Yekaterinburg and Its Vicinity
L. V. Chernaya and L. A. Koval’chuk
Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences,
ul. Vos’mogo Marta 202, Yekaterinburg, 620144 Russia;
Received October 22, 2007
—Ecological features and species composition of leeches were studied in 25 water bodies located in
the city of Yekaterinburg and its vicinity. Speciﬁc features of their occurrence and distribution in water bodies
of various types were analyzed. Dominant, mass, common, and rare species were distinguished.
: fauna of leeches, tolerance, technogenic pollution.