The diversity of permanent ectoparasites is likely underestimated due to the difficulty of collecting samples. Lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) are permanent ectoparasites of birds and mammals; there are approximately 5,000 species described and many more undescribed, particularly in the Neotropics. We document the louse genera collected from birds sampled in Peru (2006-2007) and Colombia (2009-2016), from 22 localities across a variety of ecosystems, ranging from lowland tropical forest and Llanos to high elevation cloud forest. We identified 35 louse genera from a total of 210 bird species belonging to 37 avian families and 13 orders. These genera belong to two suborders and three families of lice: Amblycera, families Menoponidae (present on 131 bird species) and Ricinidae (39 bird species); and Ischnocera, family Philopteridae (119 bird species). We compared our birdlouse associations with data in Price et al. (2003) and recently published Neotropical studies. The majority of bird-louse associations (51.9%) were new, with most of these coming from Passeriformes, the most diverse avian order, with the most poorly known louse fauna. Finally, we found geographical variation in louse infestation and prevalence rates. With this study, we report the first comprehensive documentation of bird-louse associations for Colombia and substantially increase the known associations documented for Peru.
- Feather lice
- Tropical forests
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics