The beaks of Darwin's finches and other birds are among the best known examples of adaptive evolution. Beak morphology is usually interpreted in relation to its critical role in feeding. However, the beak also plays an important role in preening, which is the first line of defence against harmful ectoparasites such as feather lice, fleas, bugs, flies, ticks and feather mites. Here, we show a feature of the beak specifically adapted for ectoparasite control. Experimental trimming of the tiny (1–2 mm) maxillary overhang of rock pigeons (Columba livia) had no effect on feeding efficiency, yet triggered a dramatic increase in feather lice and the feather damage they cause. The overhang functions by generating a shearing force against the tip of the lower mandible, which moves forward remarkably quickly during preening, at up to 31 times per second. This force damages parasite exoskeletons, significantly enhancing the efficiency of preening for parasite control. Overhangs longer than the natural mean of 1.6 mm break significantly more often than short overhangs. Hence, stabilizing selection will favour overhangs of intermediate length. The adaptive radiation of beak morphology should be re-assessed with both feeding and preening in mind.
coevolution; host; parasite; evolution; birds; lice
Ecological theory traditionally predicts that interspecific competition selects for an increase in ecological specialization. Specialization, in turn, is often thought to be an evolutionary ‘dead end,’ with specialist lineages unlikely to evolve into generalist lineages. In host–parasite systems, this specialization can take the form of host specificity, with more specialized parasites using fewer hosts. We tested the hypothesis that specialists are evolutionarily more derived, and whether competition favours specialization, using the ectoparasitic feather lice of doves. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that complete host specificity is actually the ancestral condition, with generalists repeatedly evolving from specialist ancestors. These multiple origins of generalists are correlated with the presence of potentially competing species of the same genus. A competition experiment with captive doves and lice confirmed that congeneric species of lice do, in fact, have the potential to compete in ecological time. Taken together, these results suggest that interspecific competition can favour the evolution of host generalists, not specialists, over macroevolutionary time.
specialization; coevolution; comparative methods; birds; lice
Many of the classic examples of adaptive radiation, including Caribbean Anolis lizards, are found on islands. However, Anolis also exhibits substantial species richness and ecomorphological disparity on mainland Central and South America. We compared patterns and rates of morphological evolution to investigate whether, in fact, island Anolis are exceptionally diverse relative to their mainland counterparts. Quite the contrary, we found that rates and extent of diversification were comparable—Anolis adaptive radiation is not an island phenomenon. However, mainland and Caribbean anoles occupy different parts of morphological space; in independent colonizations of both island and mainland habitats, island anoles have evolved shorter limbs and better-developed toe pads. These patterns suggest that the two areas are on different evolutionary trajectories. The ecological causes of these differences are unknown, but may relate to differences in predation or competition among mainland and island communities.
macroevolution; island biogeography; evolutionary rate; convergence; disparity; community evolution
The parasitic sucking lice of primates are known to have undergone at least 25 million years of coevolution with their hosts. For example, chimpanzee lice and human head/body lice last shared a common ancestor roughly six million years ago, a divergence that is contemporaneous with their hosts. In an assemblage where lice are often highly host specific, humans host two different genera of lice, one that is shared with chimpanzees and another that is shared with gorillas. In this study, we reconstruct the evolutionary history of primate lice and infer the historical events that explain the current distribution of these lice on their primate hosts.
Phylogenetic and cophylogenetic analyses suggest that the louse genera Pediculus and Pthirus are each monophyletic, and are sister taxa to one another. The age of the most recent common ancestor of the two Pediculus species studied matches the age predicted by host divergence (ca. 6 million years), whereas the age of the ancestor of Pthirus does not. The two species of Pthirus (Pthirus gorillae and Pthirus pubis) last shared a common ancestor ca. 3–4 million years ago, which is considerably younger than the divergence between their hosts (gorillas and humans, respectively), of approximately 7 million years ago.
Reconciliation analysis determines that there are two alternative explanations that account for the current distribution of anthropoid primate lice. The more parsimonious of the two solutions suggests that a Pthirus species switched from gorillas to humans. This analysis assumes that the divergence between Pediculus and Pthirus was contemporaneous with the split (i.e., a node of cospeciation) between gorillas and the lineage leading to chimpanzees and humans. Divergence date estimates, however, show that the nodes in the host and parasite trees are not contemporaneous. Rather, the shared coevolutionary history of the anthropoid primates and their lice contains a mixture of evolutionary events including cospeciation, parasite duplication, parasite extinction, and host switching. Based on these data, the coevolutionary history of primates and their lice has been anything but parsimonious.
Sympatric speciation is often proposed to account for species-rich adaptive radiations within lakes or islands, where barriers to gene flow or dispersal may be lacking. However, allopatric speciation may also occur in such situations, especially when ranges are fragmented by fluctuating water levels. We test the hypothesis that Miocene fragmentation of Cuba into three palaeo-archipelagos accompanied species-level divergence in the adaptive radiation of West Indian Anolis lizards. Analysis of morphology, mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA) and nuclear DNA in the Cuban green anoles (carolinensis subgroup) strongly supports three pre dictions made by this hypothesis. First, three geographical sets of populations, whose ranges correspond with palaeo-archipelago boundaries, are distinct and warrant recognition as independent evolutionary lineages or species. Coalescence of nuclear sequence fragments sampled from these species and the large divergences observed between their mtDNA haplotypes suggest separation prior to the subsequent unification of Cuba ca. 5 Myr ago. Second, molecular phylogenetic relationships among these species reflect historical geographical relationships rather than morphological similarity. Third, all three species remain distinct despite extensive geographical contact subsequent to island unification, occasional hybridization and introgression of mtDNA haplotypes. Allopatric speciation initiated during partial island submergence may play an important role in speciation during the adaptive radiation of Anolis lizards.
The ratio between lengths of digit II and IV (digit ratio 2D:4D) is a morphological feature that likely affects tetrapod locomotor performances in different microhabitats. Modifications of this trait may be triggered by changes in steroids concentrations during embryo development, which might reflect direct selection acting on digit ratio or be solely a consequence of hormonal differences related for example to body size. Here we apply both conventional and phylogenetic analyses on morphological data from 25 lizard species of 3 families of Iguania (Iguanidae, Polychrotidae, and Tropiduridae), in order to verify whether selective pressures related to locomotion in different microhabitats could override the prenatal developmental cues imposed on the digit ratio 2D:4D by differences in body size between males and females. Data suggest that this trait evolved in association with ecological divergence in the species studied, despite the clear effect of body size on the digit ratio 2D:4D. The ecological associations of size-corrected digit ratios were restricted to one sex, and females of species that often use perches exhibited small digit ratios in the front limbs, which translated into larger sexual dimorphism indexes of arboreal species. The results, together with the subsequent discussion, provide outlines for further investigation about possible developmental mechanisms related to the evolution of adaptive changes in digit lengths that may have occurred during the evolution of ecological divergence in squamates.
Replicate adaptive radiations occur when lineages repeatedly radiate and fill new but similar niches and converge phenotypically. While this is commonly seen in traditional island systems, it may also be present in host-parasite relationships, where hosts serve as islands. In a recent article in BMC Biology, Johnson and colleagues have produced the most extensive phylogeny of the avian lice (Ischnocera) to date, and find evidence for this pattern. This study opens the door to exploring adaptive radiations from a novel host-parasite perspective.
See research article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/10/52
Adaptation to different ecological environments is thought to drive ecological speciation. This phenomenon culminates in the radiations of cichlid fishes in the African Great Lakes. Multiple characteristic traits of cichlids, targeted by natural or sexual selection, are considered among the driving factors of these radiations. Parasites and pathogens have been suggested to initiate or accelerate speciation by triggering both natural and sexual selection. Three prerequisites for parasite-driven speciation can be inferred from ecological speciation theory. The first prerequisite is that different populations experience divergent infection levels. The second prerequisite is that these infection levels cause divergent selection and facilitate adaptive divergence. The third prerequisite is that parasite-driven adaptive divergence facilitates the evolution of reproductive isolation. Here we investigate the first and the second prerequisite in allopatric chromatically differentiated lineages of the rock-dwelling cichlid Tropheus spp. from southern Lake Tanganyika (Central Africa). Macroparasite communities were screened in eight populations belonging to five different colour morphs.
Parasite communities were mainly composed of acanthocephalans, nematodes, monogeneans, copepods, branchiurans, and digeneans. In two consecutive years (2011 and 2012), we observed significant variation across populations for infection with acanthocephalans, nematodes, monogeneans of the genera Gyrodactylus and Cichlidogyrus, and the copepod Ergasilus spp. Overall, parasite community composition differed significantly between populations of different colour morphs. Differences in parasite community composition were stable in time. The genetic structure of Tropheus populations was strong and showed a significant isolation-by-distance pattern, confirming that spatial isolation is limiting host dispersal. Correlations between parasite community composition and Tropheus genetic differentiation were not significant, suggesting that host dispersal does not influence parasite community diversification.
Subject to alternating episodes of isolation and secondary contact because of lake level fluctuations, Tropheus colour morphs are believed to accumulate and maintain genetic differentiation through a combination of vicariance, philopatric behaviour and mate discrimination. Provided that the observed contrasts in parasitism facilitate adaptive divergence among populations in allopatry (which is the current situation), and promote the evolution of reproductive isolation during episodes of sympatry, parasites might facilitate speciation in this genus.
Adaptive divergence; Ectoparasite; Endoparasite; Ecological speciation; Host-parasite associations; Natural selection; Parasite-driven speciation; Sexual selection
Preening is a bird’s first line of defense against harmful ectoparasites. Ectoparasites, in turn, have evolved adaptations for avoiding preening such as hardened exoskeletons and escape behavior. Earlier work suggests that some groups of ectoparasites, such as feather lice, leave hiding places in feathers that are exposed to direct sunlight, making them more vulnerable to preening. It is, therefore, conceivable that birds may choose to preen in direct sunlight, assuming it improves the effectiveness of preening. Using mourning doves and their feather lice, we tested 2 related hypotheses; (1) that birds with access to direct sunlight preen more often than birds in shade, and (2) that birds with access to direct sunlight are more effective at controlling their ectoparasites than birds in shade. To test these hypotheses, we conducted an experiment in which we manipulated both sunlight and preening ability. Our results provided no support for either hypothesis, i.e., birds given the opportunity to preen in direct sunlight did not preen significantly more often, or more effectively, than did birds in shade. Thus, the efficiency of preening for ectoparasite control appears to be independent of light intensity, at least in the case of mourning doves and their feather lice.
The present study investigated the effects of first record of co-infection of three Clinostomum sp.; Clinostomum Complanatum (Rudolphi, 1819), C. tilapiae (Ukoli, 1966), and Euclinostomum hetereostomum (1809) in Tilapia zilii. There was differential parasitic effects resulting in selection for relatively better adaptiveness to host’s microhabitats, more population size, and frequent host location of these parasites during the one year survey (Nov 2007–Oct 2008) in Opi Lake, Nigeria. Prevalence of 9.4 % was recorded in C. complanatum, 10.4 % in E. heterostomum and 4.8% in C. tilapiae. The parasites were recovered from three major microhabitats of buccal cavity, skin and eye.
Co-infection; Tilapia zilii; Clinostomum sp.; Prevalence; Microhabitats; Nigeria
Sucking lice (Phthiraptera: Anoplura) are obligate, permanent ectoparasites of eutherian mammals, parasitizing members of 12 of the 29 recognized mammalian orders and approximately 20% of all mammalian species. These host specific, blood-sucking insects are morphologically adapted for life on mammals: they are wingless, dorso-ventrally flattened, possess tibio-tarsal claws for clinging to host hair, and have piercing mouthparts for feeding. Although there are more than 540 described species of Anoplura and despite the potential economical and medical implications of sucking louse infestations, this study represents the first attempt to examine higher-level anopluran relationships using molecular data. In this study, we use molecular data to reconstruct the evolutionary history of 65 sucking louse taxa with phylogenetic analyses and compare the results to findings based on morphological data. We also estimate divergence times among anopluran taxa and compare our results to host (mammal) relationships.
This study represents the first phylogenetic hypothesis of sucking louse relationships using molecular data and we find significant conflict between phylogenies constructed using molecular and morphological data. We also find that multiple families and genera of sucking lice are not monophyletic and that extensive taxonomic revision will be necessary for this group. Based on our divergence dating analyses, sucking lice diversified in the late Cretaceous, approximately 77 Ma, and soon after the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (ca. 65 Ma) these lice proliferated rapidly to parasitize multiple mammalian orders and families.
The diversification time of sucking lice approximately 77 Ma is in agreement with mammalian evolutionary history: all modern mammal orders are hypothesized to have diverged by 75 Ma thus providing suitable habitat for the colonization and radiation of sucking lice. Despite the concordant timing of diversification events early in the association between anoplurans and mammals, there is substantial conflict between the host and parasite phylogenies. This conflict is likely the result of a complex history of host switching and extinction events that occurred throughout the evolutionary association between sucking lice and their mammalian hosts. It is unlikely that there are any ectoparasite groups (including lice) that tracked the early and rapid radiation of eutherian mammals.
Species of malaria parasite (phylum Apicomplexa: genus Plasmodium) have traditionally been described using the similarity species concept (based primarily on differences in morphological or life-history characteristics). The biological species concept (reproductive isolation) and phylogenetic species concept (based on monophyly) have not been used before in defining species of Plasmodium. Plasmodium azurophilum, described from Anolis lizards in the eastern Caribbean, is actually a two-species cryptic complex. The parasites were studied from eight islands, from Puerto Rico in the north to Grenada in the south. Morphology of the two species is very similar (differences are indistinguishable to the eye), but one infects only erythrocytes and the other only white blood cells. Molecular data for the cytochrome b gene reveal that the two forms are reproductively isolated; distinct haplotypes are present on each island and are never shared between the erythrocyte-infecting and leucocyte-infecting species. Each forms a monophyletic lineage indicating that they diverged before becoming established in the anoles of the eastern Caribbean. This comparison of the similarity, biological and phylogenetic species concepts for malaria parasites reveals the limited value of using only similarity measures in defining protozoan species.
Although crucial for the understanding of adaptive evolution, genetically resolved examples of local adaptation are rare. To maximize survival and reproduction in their local environment, hosts should resist their local parasites and pathogens. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) with its key function in parasite resistance represents an ideal candidate to investigate parasite-mediated local adaptation. Using replicated field mesocosms, stocked with second-generation lab-bred three-spined stickleback hybrids of a lake and a river population, we show local adaptation of MHC genotypes to population-specific parasites, independently of the genetic background. Increased allele divergence of lake MHC genotypes allows lake fish to fight the broad range of lake parasites, whereas more specific river genotypes confer selective advantages against the less diverse river parasites. Hybrids with local MHC genotype gained more body weight and thus higher fitness than those with foreign MHC in either habitat, suggesting the evolutionary significance of locally adapted MHC genotypes.
Adaptive radiation; host–parasite coevolution; local adaptation; major histocompatibility complex
Fossilized, winged adults belonging to the psocopteran family Liposcelididae are reported in amber from the mid-Cretaceous (ca 100 Myr) of Myanmar (described as Cretoscelis burmitica, gen. et sp. n.) and the Miocene (ca 20 Myr) of the Dominican Republic (Belaphopsocus dominicus sp. n.). Cretoscelis is an extinct sister group to all other Liposcelididae and the family is the free-living sister group to the true lice (order Phthiraptera, all of which are ectoparasites of birds and mammals). A phylogenetic hypothesis of relationships among genera of Liposcelididae, including fossils, reveals perfect correspondence between the chronology of fossils and cladistic rank of taxa. Lice and Liposcelididae minimally diverged 100 Myr, perhaps even in the earliest Cretaceous 145 Myr or earlier, in which case the hosts of lice would have been early mammals, early birds and possibly other feathered theropod dinosaurs, as well as haired pterosaurs.
Burmese amber; Dominican amber; Liposcelididae; sister group; lice
Understanding the evolutionary consequences of anthropogenic change is an emerging topic in evolutionary biology. While highly sensitive species may go extinct in response to anthropogenic habitat alteration, those with broader environmental tolerances may persist and adapt to the changes. Here, we use morphological data from the brown anole (Anolis sagrei), a lizard species that lives in both natural and human-disturbed habitats, to examine the impact of anthropogenic habitat alteration. We find populations inhabiting disturbed habitats were significantly larger in snout-vent length, hindspan, and mass and provide evidence that the observed divergence in hindspan is driven by human-induced changes in habitat structure. Populations were found to be genetically distinct among islands but are not genetically differentiated between habitat types on islands. Thus, the observed pattern of intra-island morphological differences cannot be explained by separate founding populations. Rather, our results are consistent with morphological differences between habitats having arisen in situ on each island. Results underscore the significant impact anthropogenic change may have on evolutionary trajectories of populations that persist in human-altered habitats.
Anolis lizards; anthropogenic change; habitat structure; island; selection
Parasites can strongly affect the evolution of their hosts, but their effects on host diversification are less clear. In theory, contrasting parasite communities in different foraging habitats could generate divergent selection on hosts and promote ecological speciation. Immune systems are costly to maintain, adaptable, and an important component of individual fitness. As a result, immune system genes, such as those of the Major Histocompatability Complex (MHC), can change rapidly in response to parasite-mediated selection. In threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), as well as in other vertebrates, MHC genes have been linked with female mating preference, suggesting that divergent selection acting on MHC genes might influence speciation. Here, we examined genetic variation at MHC Class II loci of sticklebacks from two lakes with a limnetic and benthic species pair, and two lakes with a single species. In both lakes with species pairs, limnetics and benthics differed in their composition of MHC alleles, and limnetics had fewer MHC alleles per individual than benthics. Similar to the limnetics, the allopatric population with a pelagic phenotype had few MHC alleles per individual, suggesting a correlation between MHC genotype and foraging habitat. Using a simulation model we show that the diversity and composition of MHC alleles in a sympatric species pair depends on the amount of assortative mating and on the strength of parasite-mediated selection in adjacent foraging habitats. Our results indicate parallel divergence in the number of MHC alleles between sympatric stickleback species, possibly resulting from the contrasting parasite communities in littoral and pelagic habitats of lakes.
Much of Earth’s biodiversity has arisen through adaptive radiation. Important avenues of phenotypic divergence during this process include the evolution of body size and life history (Schluter 2000). Extensive adaptive radiations of cichlid fishes have occurred in the Great Lakes of Africa, giving rise to behaviors that are remarkably sophisticated and diverse across species. In Tanganyikan shell-brooding cichlids of the tribe Lamprologini, tremendous intraspecific variation in body size accompanies complex breeding systems and use of empty snail shells to hide from predators and rear offspring. A study by Takahashi et al. (2009) in this issue of Molecular Ecology reveals the first case of genetic divergence between dwarf and normal-sized morphs of the same nominal lamprologine species, Telmatochromis temporalis. Patterns of population structure suggest that the dwarf, shell-dwelling morph of T. temporalis might have arisen from the normal, rock-dwelling morph independently in more than one region of the lake, and that pairs of morphs at different sites may represent different stages early in the process of ecological speciation. The findings of Takahashi et al. are important first steps toward understanding the evolution of these intriguing morphs, yet many questions remain unanswered about the mating system, gene flow, plasticity, and selection. Despite these limitations, descriptive work like theirs takes on much significance in African cichlids due to forthcoming resources for comparative genomics.
body size; habitat preference; lamprologine cichlids; mating system; stages of speciation; forthcoming genome resources
The well-known fig–fig wasp and yucca–yucca moth mutualisms are classic examples of obligate mutualisms that have been shaped by millions of years of coevolution. Pollination systems involving obligate seed parasites are only expected to evolve under rare circumstances where their positive effects are not swamped by abundant co-pollinators and heavy costs resulting from seed destruction. Here, we show that, in Phyllantheae, specialization to pollination by Epicephala moths evolved at least five times, involving more than 500 Phyllantheae species in this obligate association. Active pollination behaviour evolved once in Epicephala, 10–20 Myr after the initial divergence of their host plants. The pollinating Epicephala moths thus radiated on an already-diverged host lineage and successively colonized new Phyllantheae hosts, thereby giving rise to repeated independent evolution of the specialized pollination system in Phyllantheae. The present evolutionary success of this association rests entirely upon active pollination by Epicephala, making this a distinct example of an evolutionary key innovation. Overall, our findings provide a clear empirical demonstration of how a combination of evolutionary innovation and partner shifts facilitates the spread of mutualism in a coevolving species interaction.
active pollination behaviour; Epicephala; key innovation; obligate pollination mutualism; Phyllantheae
Cell shape is one, often overlooked, way in which protozoan parasites have adapted to a variety of host and vector environments and directional transmissions between these environments. Consequently, different parasite life cycle stages have characteristic morphologies. Trypanosomatid parasites are an excellent example of this in which large morphological variations between species and life cycle stage occur, despite sharing well-conserved cytoskeletal and membranous structures. Here, using previously published reports in the literature of the morphology of 248 isolates of trypanosomatid species from different hosts, we perform a meta-analysis of the occurrence and limits on morphological diversity of different classes of trypanosomatid morphology (trypomastigote, promastigote, etc.) in the vertebrate bloodstream and invertebrate gut environments. We identified several limits on cell body length, cell body width and flagellum length diversity which can be interpreted as biomechanical limits on the capacity of the cell to attain particular dimensions. These limits differed for morphologies with and without a laterally attached flagellum which we suggest represent two morphological superclasses, the ‘juxtaform’ and ‘liberform’ superclasses. Further limits were identified consistent with a selective pressure from the mechanical properties of the vertebrate bloodstream environment; trypanosomatid size showed limits relative to host erythrocyte dimensions. This is the first comprehensive analysis of the limits of morphological diversity in any protozoan parasite, revealing the morphogenetic constraints and extrinsic selection pressures associated with the full diversity of trypanosomatid morphology.
Terrestrial habitats exhibit a variety of light environments. If species exhibit evolutionary adaptations of their visual system or signals to habitat light conditions, then these conditions can directly influence the structure of communities. We evaluated habitat light characteristics and visual-signal design in a pair of sympatric species of lizards: Anolis cooki and Anolis cristatellus. We found that each species occupies a distinct microhabitat with respect to light intensity and spectral quality. We measured the relative retinal spectral sensitivity and found significant differences between the species that correlate with differences in habitat spectral quality. We measured the spectral reflectance of the dewlaps (colourful throat fans used in communication), and found that the A. cooki dewlap reflects little ultraviolet (UV), while that of A. cristatellus reflects strongly in the UV. For both species downwelling light (irradiance) is rich in UV. However the background light (radiance) is rich in UV for A. cooki, but low in UV for A. cristatellus. Thus, the dewlap of each species creates a high contrast with the background in the UV. Our findings strongly suggest that these two species are partitioning their habitat through specializations of the visual system and signal design to microhabitat light conditions.
Divergence along a benthic to limnetic habitat axis is ubiquitous in aquatic systems. However, this type of habitat divergence has largely been examined in low diversity, high latitude lake systems. In this study, we examined the importance of benthic and limnetic divergence within the incredibly species-rich radiation of Lake Malawi cichlid fishes. Using novel phylogenetic reconstructions, we provided a series of hypotheses regarding the evolutionary relationships among 24 benthic and limnetic species that suggests divergence along this axis has occurred multiple times within Lake Malawi cichlids. Because pectoral fin morphology is often associated with divergence along this habitat axis in other fish groups, we investigated divergence in pectoral fin muscles in these benthic and limnetic cichlid species. We showed that the eight pectoral fin muscles and fin area generally tended to evolve in a tightly correlated manner in the Lake Malawi cichlids. Additionally, we found that larger pectoral fin muscles are strongly associated with the independent evolution of the benthic feeding habit across this group of fish. Evolutionary specialization along a benthic/limnetic axis has occurred multiple times within this tropical lake radiation and has produced repeated convergent matching between exploitation of water column habitats and locomotory morphology.
Adaptive radiation; African Great Lakes; aquatic locomotion; functional morphology; mbuna; utaka
Parasites can be used as unique markers to investigate host evolutionary history, independent of host data. Here we show that modern human head lice, Pediculus humanus, are composed of two ancient lineages, whose origin predates modern Homo sapiens by an order of magnitude (ca. 1.18 million years). One of the two louse lineages has a worldwide distribution and appears to have undergone a population bottleneck ca. 100,000 years ago along with its modern H. sapiens host. Phylogenetic and population genetic data suggest that the other lineage, found only in the New World, has remained isolated from the worldwide lineage for the last 1.18 million years. The ancient divergence between these two lice is contemporaneous with splits among early species of Homo, and cospeciation analyses suggest that the two louse lineages codiverged with a now extinct species of Homo and the lineage leading to modern H. sapiens. If these lice indeed codiverged with their hosts ca. 1.18 million years ago, then a recent host switch from an archaic species of Homo to modern H. sapiens is required to explain the occurrence of both lineages on modern H. sapiens. Such a host switch would require direct physical contact between modern and archaic forms of Homo.
A phylogenetic analysis reveals that humans have two types of head lice and that one must have switched from an ancient to a modern human host, suggesting these humans had contact
Sympatric speciation—the divergence of populations into new species in absence of geographic barriers to hybridization—is the most debated mode of diversification of life forms. Parasitic organisms are prominent models for sympatric speciation, because they may colonise new hosts within the same geographic area and diverge through host specialization. However, it has been argued that this mode of parasite divergence is not strict sympatric speciation, because host shifts likely cause the sudden effective isolation of parasites, particularly if these are transmitted by vectors and therefore cannot select their hosts. Strict sympatric speciation would involve parasite lineages diverging within a single host species, without any population subdivision.
Here we report a case of extraordinary divergence of sympatric, ecologically distinct, and reproductively isolated malaria parasites within a single avian host species, which apparently occurred without historical or extant subdivision of parasite or host populations.
This discovery of within-host speciation changes our current view on the diversification potential of malaria parasites, because neither geographic isolation of host populations nor colonization of new host species are any longer necessary conditions to the formation of new parasite species.
The diversity of parasites attacking a host varies substantially among different host species. Understanding the factors that explain these patterns of parasite diversity is critical to identifying the ecological principles underlying biodiversity. Seabirds (Charadriiformes, Pelecaniformes and Procellariiformes) and their ectoparasitic lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) are ideal model groups in which to study correlates of parasite species richness. We evaluated the relative importance of morphological (body size, body weight, wingspan, bill length), life-history (longevity, clutch size), ecological (population size, geographical range) and behavioural (diving versus non-diving) variables as predictors of louse diversity on 413 seabird hosts species. Diversity was measured at the level of louse suborder, genus, and species, and uneven sampling of hosts was controlled for using literature citations as a proxy for sampling effort.
The only variable consistently correlated with louse diversity was host population size and to a lesser extent geographic range. Other variables such as clutch size, longevity, morphological and behavioural variables including body mass showed inconsistent patterns dependent on the method of analysis.
The comparative analysis presented herein is (to our knowledge) the first to test correlates of parasite species richness in seabirds. We believe that the comparative data and phylogeny provide a valuable framework for testing future evolutionary hypotheses relating to the diversity and distribution of parasites on seabirds.
Although studies of ancient lake fauna have provided important insights about speciation patterns and processes of organisms in heterogeneous benthic environments, evolutionary forces responsible for speciation in the relatively homogenous planktonic environment remain largely unexplored. In this study, we investigate possible mechanisms of speciation in zooplankton using the freshwater diaptomids of the ancient lakes of Sulawesi, Indonesia, as a model system. We integrate phylogenetic and population genetic analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear genes with morphological and genome size data. Overall, our results support the conclusion that colonization order and local adaptation are dominant at the large, island scale, whereas at local and intralacustrine scales, speciation processes are regulated by gene flow among genetically differentiated and locally adapted populations. In the Malili lakes, the diaptomid populations are homogenous at nuclear loci, but show two highly divergent mitochondrial clades that are geographically restricted to single lakes despite the interconnectivity of the lake systems. Our study, based on coalescent simulations and population genetic analyses, indicates that unidirectional hybridization allows gene flow across the nuclear genome, but prevents the introgression of mitochondria into downstream populations. We suggest that hybridization and introgression between young lineages is a significant evolutionary force in freshwater plankton.
Ancient lakes; copepoda; Malili lakes; plankton; population structure