Evolution of Ticks

  • Klompen J
  • Black W
  • Keirans J
 et al. 
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Evolutionary patterns in ticks have traditionally been cast in terms of host associations. Largely untested assumptions of cospeciation and observations of current host associations are used to estimate the age of different taxa. Several recent phylogenetic studies of supraspecific relationships in ticks, based on both morphological and DNA-sequence data, allow the first rigorous testing of these assumptions. Reanalysis of patterns of tick-host associations suggests that the perception of host specificity in ticks may be an artifact of incomplete sampling. An analysis of tick-host and -habitat associations and biogeographical patterns, in the context of the newly derived phylogenies, suggests that much of the existing host-association patterns may be explained as artifacts of biogeography and ecological specificity. PERSPECTIVES AND OVERVIEW Ticks are obligate, nonpermanent ectoparasites of terrestrial vertebrates. All species are exclusively hematophagous in all feeding stages. They have con-siderable medical-veterinary importance (58, 59) because of their ability to harm their hosts through direct action (tick paralysis, exsanguination) or by vectoring disease organisms. As a result, many aspects of tick biology, includ-ing tick ecology, physiology, and reproduction, have been studied in consid-erable detail. In fact, more data are available for ticks than for any other group of Acari. Excellent and relatively recent reviews include studies by Oliver (49) and Sonenshine (58, 59). This review focuses on tick systematics and evolu-141

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  • J. S. H. Klompen

  • W. C. Black

  • J. E. Keirans

  • J. H. Oliver

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