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A list of the leech (Clitellata: Hirudinida) collection deposited in the Department of Zoology, The University Museum, The University of Tokyo

Takafumi Nakano1) and Tetsuya Itoh2)

1)Department of Zoology, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto, 606-8502 Japan
2)Sapporo branch, Marine Biological Research Institute of Japan, Co., Ltd., Sapporo, 007-0862 Japan

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The leech collection deposited in the Department of Zoology, The University Museum, The University of Tokyo (UMUTZ) consists of 27 bottles referable to 14 species of 8 families and two unidentifiable species. These specimens were collected between 1883 and 1910 from Japan, Taiwan, and China. There are several specimens of which the collected date or locality were not written on the labels. The collection includes the type series of Orobdella whitmani Oka, 1895 as noted below.

There were three zoologists who studied about leeches at the University of Tokyo, formerly known as Tokyo Imperial University. Therefore, most of the leech specimens housed in the UMUTZ were possibly collected by these three researchers.

Professor Charles O. Whitman studied Japanese leeches when he was employed as the second Professor of Zoology at the University of Tokyo in 1879–1881. He was the first researcher who studied the taxonomy of leeches in Japan, and described five leech species (Whitman, 1884, 1886); 1) Hirudo nipponia Whitman, 1886; 2) Whitmania acranulata (Whitman, 1886); 3) Whitmania pigra (Whitman, 1884); 4) Whitmania edentula (Whitman, 1886); and 5) Haemadipsa japonica Whitman, 1886.

Professor Isao Ijima, known as the second Japanese Professor of Zoology at the Tokyo Imperial University and a famous parasitologist, studied hirudinology under Professor Whitman. He reported oogenesis of the Nephelis species collected in Tokyo (Ijima, 1882).

Dr. Asajiro Oka studied leeches after Whitman left Japan. He was the first Japanese researcher to study leech taxonomy and described 33 leech species during 1895–1935 (Sket and Trontelj, 2008). In 1895, when he was a professor at the Yamaguchi Higher School (Oka, 1895a; Zoological Society of Japan, 1938), he established the genus Orobdella and described three new species, Orobdella ijimai Oka, 1895, Orobdella octonaria Oka, 1895 and O. whitmani, based on specimens stored in the Museum of the Zoological Institution of the University of Tokyo. He described the other 30 species between 1902 and 1935, when he was a professor at the Tokyo Higher Normal School (now Tsukuba University). Most of his leech specimens were deposited at Tsukuba University, and later the collection was transferred to and stored at the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo (NSMT) (Richardson, 1971; Nakano, 2010).


The authors are grateful to Dr. Rei Ueshima (The University of Tokyo) for giving us the opportunity to examine the leech collection deposited in the UMUTZ, and to Professor Tsutomu Hikida (Kyoto University) for his helpful comments and suggestions to improve this manuscript. We are also grateful to Dr. Hironori Komatsu (NSMT) for allowing TN to examine the type specimen under his care, to Professor Tetsuji Nakabo (The Kyoto University Museum) for his helpful guidance on the Japanese name of the Japanese dace, to Dr. Dai Suzuki (Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology) for his advice on the scientific name of green turtles, and to Dr. Elizabeth Nakajima (Kyoto University) for checking the English of the text.

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