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, 2 (2), 275-8

Reinterpreting the Origins of Flamingo Lice: Cospeciation or Host-Switching?

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Reinterpreting the Origins of Flamingo Lice: Cospeciation or Host-Switching?

Kevin P Johnson et al. Biol Lett.

Abstract

The similarity of the louse faunas of flamingos and ducks has been used as evidence that these two groups of birds are closely related. However, the realization that ducks actually are more closely related to Galliformes caused many workers to reinterpret this similarity in parasite faunas as host switching from ducks to flamingos. Recent unexpected phylogenetic results on the relationships of waterbirds and their lice call for a reinterpretation of the origins of the lice of the enigmatic flamingos. Here, we bring together new evidence on the phylogenetic relationships of flamingos and their lice and show that the lice of flamingos and grebes are closely related because their hosts share a common ancestor (cospeciation). We also demonstrate that the similarity of the louse faunas of flamingos and ducks is a result of host switching from flamingos to ducks, rather than from ducks to flamingos.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
A tanglegram of waterbirds and louse phylogenies based on Van Tuinen et al. (2001) and Smith et al. (2004), respectively. Circles indicate the five cospeciation events inferred from the optimal jungles cophylogenetic analysis (TreeMap 2). The asterisk marks the cospeciation event between grebes and flamingos and their lice (Anaticola and Aquanirmus). Dashed lines connect bird families with their associated louse genera.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Phylogeny of Aquanirmus and Anaticola from grebes, flamingos and ducks inferred by consensus of 9700 trees from Bayesian maximum likelihood analyses. Numbers above branches are Bayesian posterior probability/maximum likelihood bootstrap values. Branches are proportional to inferred substitutions per site. Grebes, flamingos and duck lice are marked with icons. Tree rooted on mammal lice (Trichodectidae).

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