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Syst Biol. 2004 Feb;53(1):154-64.

Biogeography explains cophylogenetic patterns in toucan chewing lice.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences and Museum of Natural Science, 119 Foster Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803-3216, USA.


Historically, comparisons of host and parasite phylogenies have concentrated on cospeciation. However, many of these comparisons have demonstrated that the phylogenies of hosts and parasites are seldom completely congruent, suggesting that phenomena other than cospeciation play an important role in the evolution of host-parasite assemblages. Other coevolutionary phenomena, such as host switching, parasite duplication (speciation on the host), sorting (extinction), and failure to speciate can also influence host-parasite assemblages. Using mitochondrial and nuclear protein-coding DNA sequences, I reconstructed the phylogeny of ectoparasitic toucan chewing lice in the Austrophilopterus cancellosus subspecies complex and compared this phylogeny with the phylogeny of the hosts, the Ramphastos toucans, to reconstruct the history of coevolutionary events in this host-parasite assemblage. Three salient findings emerged. First, reconstructions of host and louse phylogenies indicate that they do not branch in parallel, and their cophylogenetic history shows little or no significant cospeciation. Second, members of monophyletic Austrophilopterus toucan louse lineages are not necessarily restricted to monophyletic host lineages. Often, closely related lice are found on more distantly related but sympatric toucan hosts. Third, the geographic distribution of the hosts apparently plays a role in the speciation of these lice. These results suggest that for some louse lineages biogeography may be more important than host associations in structuring louse populations and species, particularly when host life history (e.g., hole nesting) or parasite life history (e.g., phoresis) might promote frequent host switching events between syntopic host species. These findings highlight the importance of integrating biogeographic information into cophylogenetic studies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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