UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Description of the cophylogenetic relationship between the Myrsidea chewing louse and its Neotropical Mionectes flycatcher host. Cook, Andrew


Cospeciation is when two species share similar or identical phylogenies as a result of their interactions and is often predicted with ectosymbionts, organisms that complete the majority of their lifecycle on a host. When an organism is dependent on another to complete it’s reproductive cycle, there is potential for cospeciation. Due to limited dispersal capabilities beyond contact between a current and potential host species, many ectosymbionts have phylogenies that mirror their hosts’. In this thesis, I test this prediction using Myrsidea feather lice found on Neotropical Mionectes flycatchers from Manu National Park, Peru. My results show strong evidence of cospeciation by comparing trees built using sequences from the Myrsidea’s mitochondrial (CO1) and nuclear (EF-1α) genes to previously described host trees from Miller et al. (2008) and Jetz et al. (2012). These findings agree with previous morphological descriptions of two Myrsidea lice species co-occurring with Mionectes hosts and provides evidence that there are currently two previously undescribed species of Myrsidea. This adds to our knowledge and understanding of how ectosymbionts and hosts interact through evolutionary time, and provides the basis for future studies on the description of Myrsidea which is an under-described group of widespread organisms.

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