Leeches of the genus Limnatis Moquin–Tandon, 1827 infest mucous membranes of various mammals, including humans and domestic ungulates. The type species of the genus L. nilotica (Savigny, 1822) was initially thought to occur throughout the Western Palaearctic, from North Africa to the Middle East and Central Asia. It was later found that L. paluda (Tennent, 1859) is a widespread Western Asian species. However, the South Caucasus and vast areas of Central Asia have not been explored sufficiently in terms of leeches of the genus Limnatis. We recorded L. paluda from Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan for the first time. We also carried out the first molecular characterisation of L. nilotica herein. We found a deep genetic differentiation (8 %) between the Western Asian L. paluda and North African (Moroccan) L. nilotica based on their COI sequences. This finding corroborates a previous morphology–based hypothesis on their separate species assignments. The low genetic diversity of L. paluda is explained by the recent colonisation of arid landscapes of Western Asia.
Annelida, Limnatis paluda, Limnatis nilotica, COI, Genetic diversity
Reception date: 2 VII 21 | Acceptation date: 25 XI 21 | Publication date: 21 XII 21
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