Patterns of cryptic host specificity in duck lice based on molecular data

Gabriela C. Escalante, A. D. Sweet, K. G. Mccracken, D. R. Gustafsson, R. E. Wilson, K. P. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Documenting patterns of host specificity in parasites relies on the adequate definition of parasite species. In many cases, parasites have simplified morphology, making species delimitation based on traditional morphological characters difficult. Molecular data can help in assessing whether widespread parasites harbour cryptic species and, alternatively, in guiding further taxonomic revision in cases in which there is morphological variation. The duck louse genus Anaticola (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae), based on current taxonomy, contains both host-specific and widespread species. Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences of samples from this genus were used to document patterns of host specificity. The comparison of these patterns with morphological variations in Anaticola revealed a general correspondence between the groups identified by DNA sequences and morphology, respectively. These results suggest that a more thorough taxonomic review of this genus is needed. In general, the groups identified on the basis of molecular data were associated with particular groups of waterfowl (e.g. dabbling ducks, sea ducks, geese) or specific biogeographic regions (e.g. North America, South America, Australia, Eurasia).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-208
Number of pages9
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Anatidae
  • Parasites
  • Phylogeny
  • Waterfowl
  • Wing lice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science


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