The Life On Birds: Evolution of Feather Lice on Songbirds

Sarah Bush, Daniel Gustafson, Kevin Johnson

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


Songbirds are parasitized by one of the largest and most diverse groups of feather lice in the insect order Phthiraptera. Lice are permanent, obligate ectoparasites that spend their entire lives on the body of their hosts. This close association between lice and their hosts means that an understanding of macroevolutionary history of these lice can provide unique, and independent insights into the evolutionary history of their hosts. We reconstructed a phylogeny of feather lice based on 333 louse taxa sampled from 250 bird species belonging to 66 bird families. Patterns that emerged from this phylogenetic reconstruction illuminate our understanding of the historical biogeography of the hosts, and highlight how movement of lice among hosts has influenced the evolution of the lice themselves.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication6th North American Ornithological Conference, 16-21 August, 2016, Washington, D.C.
StatePublished - 2016


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