Hirudo medicinalis 

Scope: Global
Language: English
Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_offStatus_nt_onStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Annelida Clitellata Arhynchobdellida Hirudinidae

Scientific Name: Hirudo medicinalis
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English European Medicinal Leech
French Sangsue Médicinale, Sangsue Officinale

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-12-19
Assessor(s): Utevsky, S., Zagmajster, M. & Trontelj, P.
Reviewer(s): Gerlach, J.
Justification:
Neither a reduction in population sizes nor a decline in the geographical ranges in comparison with previous records have been detected. On the other hand, the potential and actual loss of wetland habitats, the global decline of amphibians, abandonment of traditional grazing practices and the scarcity of mammalian blood in leech diet are likely to affect populations and geographical ranges. It seems very likely that such losses have already happened, but have remained unnoticed because of the lack of field research and/or taxonomic expertise. It is likely that ongoing deterioration in many wetland habitats and projected effects of climate change will result in a 20-30% decline in the area of good quality habitat. The associated projected population decline makes this species Near Threatened, and likely to move to a Vulnerable category over the next 10 years.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Hirudo medicinalis is distributed from Britain and southern Norway to the southern Urals and probably as far as the Altai Mountains, occupying the deciduous arboreal zone.

Countries occurrence:
Native:
Austria; Belarus; Croatia; Czech Republic; France; Germany; Hungary; Latvia; Lithuania; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Russian Federation; Slovenia; Sweden; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:105539
Number of Locations:461
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Hirudo medicinalis has experienced recent rapid population growth and range expansion. The European medicinal leech has low genetic diversity, which is in agreement with their fast spreading. On the other hand, the potential and actual loss of wetland habitats, the global decline of amphibians, abandonment of traditional grazing practices and the scarcity of mammalian blood in leech diet are likely to affect populations and geographical ranges.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:UnknownPopulation severely fragmented:Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

It occurs in ponds, waters that dry up periodically, floodplain pools and small lakes. Other ecological requirements include abundant hosts (frogs, cattle and horses), silty water bottoms, dense submerged and emergent vegetation and gently sloping banks favourable for laying cocoons.

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

The European medicinal leech can be used for bloodletting. However, related species are usually used for medical purposes and in life sciences as model organisms.  The European medicinal leech is a classic laboratory object used for educational purposes.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species can be threatened locally by collecting pressure.  Threats also include loss of wetland habitats, the global decline of amphibians and abandonment of traditional grazing practices. Drained and agriculturally ameliorated stretches are devoid of European medicinal leeches.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed under Appendix III of the Bern Convention, Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and Annex V of the Habitats Directive.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Unknown
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Not Applicable
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Unknown ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.4. Abstraction of surface water (unknown use)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

Bibliography [top]

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 1990. 1990 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2014. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 12 June 2014).

Petrauskienė, L., Utevska, O., Utevsky, S. 2011. Reproductive biology and ecological strategies of three species of medicinal leeches (genus Hirudo). Journal of Natural History 45: 737-747.

Sawyer, R.T. 1981. Why we need to save the medicinal leech. Oryx 16: 165-168.

Siddall, M. E., Trontelj, P., Utevsky, S.Y., Nkamany, M., Macdonald III, K.S. 2007. Diverse molecular data demonstrate that commercially available medicinal leeches are not Hirudo medicinalis. Proceedings of The Royal Society 274: 1481-1487.

Trontelj, P. and Utevsky, S.Y. 2005. Celebrity with a neglected taxonomy: molecular systematics of the medicinal leech (genus Hirudo). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34: 616-624.

Trontelj, P. and Utevsky, S.Y. 2012. Phylogeny and phylogeography of medicinal leeches (genus Hirudo): Fast dispersal and shallow genetic structure. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 63(474-485).

Utevsky, S., Zagmajster, M., Atemasov, A., Zinenko, O., Utevska O., Utevsky, A., Trontelj , P. 2010. Distribution and status of medicinal leeches (genus Hirudo) in the Western Palaearctic: anthropogenic, ecological, or historical effects? Aquatic Conservation: Marine And Freshwater Ecosystems 20: 198-210.

Wells, S.M., Pyle, R.M. and Collins, N.M. (compilers) 1983. The IUCN Invertebrate Red Data Book. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.


Citation: Utevsky, S., Zagmajster, M. & Trontelj, P. 2014. Hirudo medicinalis. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T10190A21415816. . Downloaded on 10 December 2016.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided