Restricted Geographic Sampling Yields Low Parasitism Rates but Surprisingly Diverse Host Associations in Avian Lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) from South Texas Academic Article uri icon


  • South Texas is a highly variable region encompassing multiple habitat types and harboring a wide diversity of organisms. However, the parasite fauna in this region is poorly known, especially for avian ectoparasites such as lice. To better understand avian louse diversity and host associations in South Texas, we examined a total of 507 birds for chewing lice. Lice were morphologically identified to genus and phylogenetic analysis was performed using one mitochondrial (COI) and two nuclear (18S rRNA and EF-1α) genes. Of the birds examined, 69 (13.5%) were parasitized by lice resulting in a total of 63 host associations across 45 bird species, 29 of which were previously unrecorded. The predominant taxa encountered during this study included two of the most diverse louse genera, Myrsidea and Brueelia. Molecular analyses revealed 21 distinct genetic lineages, 17 of which are associated with novel host associations and may represent new species. This study represents the first extensive examination of avian louse host associations and relationships in Texas and reveals that there is still much to be learned about ectoparasite diversity in the New World.

author list (cited authors)

  • Pistone, J. P., Light, J. E., Campbell, T. A., Catanach, T. A., & Voelker, G.

complete list of authors

  • Pistone, John P||Light, Jessica E||Campbell, Tyler A||Catanach, Therese A||Voelker, Gary

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM