Avian louse phylogeny (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera): a cladistic study based morphology

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2001
Authors:V. Stuart Smith
Journal:Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Pagination:81 - 144
Date Published:2001
Keywords:bird, Chewing lice, classification, coevolution, congruence, cospeciation, gopher, host, Ischnocera, lice, mtax, ontogeny, parasite, PHP, Phthiraptera, Phylogeny, pocket, selection, sexual, trichodectidae

The louse suborder Ischnocera (Phthiraptera) contains 3,060 currently described species from over 150 genera. These lice are permanent obligatory ectoparasites of a diverse selection of birds and mammals with a worldwide distribution. They have historically played a major role in the development of our ideas on coevolution, and species hosted by mammals have been used extensively as model organism for the study of cospeciation. In contrast, avian taxa comprising 90% of ischnoceran species have been largely neglected due to a lack of data on their wider systematics. A comparative study of based on adult and instar morphology of avian lice yielded 138 characters from 56 species (51 genera), all of which are figured or discussed for the first time. A further five outgroup taxa were examined from the mammalian ischnoceran family Trichodectidae. Phylogenetic analyses of these data produced three most parsimonious cladograms, the strict consensus of which is highly resolved and broadly consistent with previous classifications. Morphological character variation is extensive, and nymphal character traits are essential to identify instances of convergent evolution in adult morphology. The role of ontogeny in the development of the major character complexes of the head and abdomen is discussed and its implications for further work on the phylogeny of avian Ischnocera is considered. Comparison with host taxonomy reveals a pattern that is broadly consistent with a hypothesis of cospeciation. However, host - parasite associations are complex and difficult to interpret due to the low sample size. The role of niche specialisation to explain the presence of multiple unrelated lineages on the same host taxon is considered.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith