Glossiphoniid Phylogeny Project


Brood of hatchling Haementeria ghilianii attached to venter of parent.

Investigators: Jessica E. Light & Mark E. Siddall

Abstract: The phylogenetic relationships of the freshwater leech family Glossiphoniidae are being assesed with combined cladistic analyses of morphological characters, cytochrome c oxidase I and NADH dehydrogenase-I.

* a listing of taxa, localities and accession numbers is available.

Although phylogenetic analyses of leeches have been conducted at the higher taxonomic level, there have been no intra-familial studies of these annelids. The phylogenetic relationships of leeches in the family Glossiphoniidae were investigated using morphological characters as well as 665 bp of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I and 654 bp of mitochondrial nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide dehydrogenase subunit 1. Thirty-five taxa representing ten of the 23 genera that are currently recognized in the family were used, including more than 70% of known North American species, as well as others from Europe, South America, Africa, and an endemic species from Lake Baikal. Three species from the family Piscicolidae and one species from the family Ozobranchidae served as outgroup taxa. Cladistic analysis resulted in one most-parsimonious tree. Subfamily distinctions (i.e., Haementeriinae, Theromyzinae, and Glossiphoniinae), which have been based on eye-morphology and reproductive biology, are found to not be predictive of relationships. Results also provide insight into several problematic genus-level classifications. For example, the elimination of the genus Desserobdella may be necessary, and relationships of the genera Placobdella and Haementeria are clarified. Blood feeding is seen to be a primitive characteristic but has been lost twice within the clade. The hypothesis that the biannulate leech, Oligobdella biannulata, represents an important transitional form is re-evaluated in a phylogenetic context. (Supported by NSF grants BIO/DEB-9615211 and DEB-9840369).

The total evidence data set is available too.


APPENDIX of critters, their taxonomic authorites, and descriptive information
You can help us fill in the gaps!


As of July 8th, still missing from North America:
Placobdella multilineata
Placobdella nuchalis
Placobdella hollensis
Actinobdella spp.

Need to get locally:
Actinobdella innequiannulata (ex Catostomus spp check body and mouth)


Other genera of glossphoniids not represented yet: