Patterns of evolution between a group of New World doves and their parasitic feather lice

Andrew Sweet, Kevin Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Hosts-parasite interactions are plentiful and diverse, and understanding the patterns of these interactions can provide novel insight into the evolution of the organisms involved. Comparing the evolutionary patterns (i.e.phylogenies) of a group of hosts and their associated parasites is a way to test for biologically relevant relationships. In this study we focus on a clade of parasitic chewing lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) associated with a group of birds, the small New World ground-doves (Aves: Columbidae). We used lice sampled from most ground-dove species, and included samples from multiple geographic locations. From these samples we sequenced mitochondrial and nuclear loci for the lice, and used this data to estimate phylogenetic relationships. We then used cophylogenetic analyses to compare the louse phylogeny to an existing host phylogeny. The cophylogenetic analyses indicated an overall congruence between the host and parasite phylogenies, but only recovered a single cospeciation event. This indicates the patterns are not consistent across this host-parasite system. Lice with the highest levels of congruence are associated with a genus of high Andean ground-dove that are well separated from other related taxa (Metriopelia). The other associations are not as congruent. However, testing for structure according to host biogeography in the louse phylogeny yielded highly significant results, suggesting phylogenetic relationships among the lice are perhaps best predicted by host biogeography. The results from this research highlight the importance of studying host-parasite interactions to further understand the evolutionary history of a group of birds.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication6th North American Ornithological Conference, 16-21 August, 2016, Washington, D.C.
StatePublished - 2016


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