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

Jabłońska-Barna, Izabela, Bielecki, Aleksander, Cichocka, Joanna M., Buczyńska, Edyta, Buczyński, Pawel, Walerzak, Aldona, Szlauer-Łukaszewska, Agnieszka
Biologia 2017 v.72 no.4 pp. 407-416
Hirudinea, case studies, environmental factors, eurytopic species, fauna, habitats, humans, rivers, species diversity, Europe
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.