The alien Asian leech Barbronia weberi (Blanchard, 1897) (Hirudinea: Salifidae) reported from two disjunct localities in North Carolina, United States, with observations on its biology and potential for laboratory research.
The alien Asian leech Barbronia weberi (Blanchard, 1897) was discovered in two widely separate localities in coastal North Carolina, USA, during an eco-systematic study of the Erpobdellidae of this region. Both populations display key external characteristics of this easily recognizable species, most significantly two accessory pores on the venter and gonopores separated by 4 1/2 annuli. Of taxonomic significance, the accessory pores are not always detectable, but arise during maturation, with the posterior pore developing first. The question arises whether these populations are truly disjunct (i.e., two introductory events) or have a continuous distribution (i.e., one introductory event). Toward an answer, we propose exploiting differences in the respective cocoons between the native erpobdellid Mooreobdella tetragon Sawyer and Shelley, 1976, and the alien salifid B. weberi, to trace the distribution of the alien species in the area of study since adult individuals are scarcely available. Owing to its incomparable reproductive success, from egg to egg under constant conditions, B. weberi may make a useful laboratory research tool, especially for developmental studies.