A catalogue of Helobdella (Annelida, Clitellata, Hirudinea, Glossiphoniidae), with a summary of leech diversity, from South America

Martin Lindsey Christoffersen


A catalogue of Helobdella produced 46 nominal species reported to date from South America. Only 14 species of Helobdella had been registered for South America until 1981. Almost 90% of the present fauna is endemic to the South American continent. Only fi ve species occur in more northern latitudes. Raul Adolfo Ringuelet has described 35% of the species known today. Full synonyms and detailed South American occurrences are provided. This is the first reassessment of South American Helobdella in 27 years. A dominant feature of the South American leech fauna is the presence of many terrestrial predaceous forms. There are now 139 species of leeches in South America. Almost 88% of this fauna is endemic. Most endemic forms (52 species) come from subtropical latitudes, but this pattern may reflect the vagaries of sampling and place of residence of the main South American leech specialist.

Key words: biodiversity, distribution patterns, leeches, Neotropical region.

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