Remarkable levels of avian louse (Insecta: Phthiraptera) diversity in the Congo Basin
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© 2016 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Although the Democratic Republic of the Congo is considered a megadiverse country, the Congo Basin is not recognized as a conservation priority because of gross underestimates of species diversity and endemism, especially for invertebrate taxa. Examining ectoparasitic chewing lice parasitizing birds in this region could provide valuable information pertaining to the diversity of invertebrate taxa as well as host–parasite interactions within the Congo Basin. In this study, we used molecular and morphological data to examine avian louse diversity. From 60 parasitized birds, we documented 39 new host associations, and at least 12 and 17 species of amblyceran and ischnoceran chewing lice, respectively. Morphologically, we identified a minimum of 13 new species. Due to a lack of available reference material, we were unable to identify some specimens and it is likely many, if not all of these, represent new species. Our sampling efforts, morphological examinations and molecular analyses reveal an astounding amount of louse diversity in the Congo Basin.
author list (cited authors)
Light, J. E., Nessner, C. E., Gustafsson, D. R., Wise, S. R., & Voelker, G.