[Annelida] Xerobdella lecomtei leech in climate trouble?

Geoff Read via annelida%40net.bio.net (by g.read from niwa.co.nz)
Sun Sep 9 17:47:22 EST 2007

There is a better report than the one below online at:


Kutschera U et al. ( 2007 ). The European land leech: biology and 
DNA-based taxonomy of a rare species that is threatened by climate 
warming.  Naturwissenschaften ( DOI 10.1007/s00114-007-0278-3 )

Online first: 

The paper is dedicated to the species discoverer, naturalist Georg
Ritter von Frauenfeld (1807–1873), on the occasion of his 200th


News report: Climate change sucks life from rare leech

Oslo, Sept 5 Reuters

The Austrian forest habitat has dried out since the 60s contributing to 
the demise of the rare European leach, Xerobdella lecomtei

A rare European leech seems to be headed toward extinction as global 
warming dries out the Austrian forest home of the tiny blood-sucker, 
scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers at German and Austrian universities found only one juvenile 
leech in birch forests near Graz, Austria, in searches from 2001-2005. 
Scientists had found 20 specimens, up to 4cms long, in the same forests 
in the 1960s.

"Recent human-induced warming may have led over past decades to the 
almost complete extinction of a local population of this rare animal 
species," they wrote in a study to be published in the journal 

A rise in average summer temperatures in the region of 3 deg C since the 
1960s, widely blamed on greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, had 
apparently dried out the forests where leeches lived on moist bark and 

The leeches, formally known as Xerobdella lecomtei, were first found 
only in 1868 and feed on earthworms. More studies would be needed to see 
if the leeches were managing to survive in a cooler, higher region.

UN studies say that the world may be facing the worst wave of 
extinctions since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago because of 
threats such as climate change and a loss of habitats to cities, roads 
and farms.

The scientists said that it was a rare example of a species in trouble 
even though its habitat was broadly intact. The one leech found died 
after about 10 months in a laboratory.


   Geoff Read <g.read from niwa.co.nz>

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