Species formation by host shifting in avian malaria parasites

  • Ricklefs R
  • Outlaw D
  • Svensson-Coelho M
 et al. 
  • 121

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 47

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

The malaria parasites (Apicomplexa: Haemosporida) of birds are believed to have diversified across the avian host phylogeny well after the origin of most major host lineages. Although many symbionts with direct transmission codiversify with their hosts, mechanisms of species formation in vector-borne parasites, including the role of host shifting, are poorly understood. Here, we examine the hosts of sister lineages in a phylogeny of 181 putative species of malaria parasites of New World terrestrial birds to determine the role of shifts between host taxa in the formation of new parasite species. We find that host shifting, often across host genera and families, is the rule. Sympatric speciation by host shifting would require local reproductive isolation as a prerequisite to divergent selection, but this mechanism is not supported by the generalized host-biting behavior of most vectors of avian malaria parasites. Instead, the geographic distribution of individual parasite lineages in diverse hosts suggests that species formation is predominantly allopatric and involves host expansion followed by local host-pathogen coevolution and secondary sympatry, resulting in local shifting of parasite lineages across hosts.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Authors

  • R. E. Ricklefs

  • D. C. Outlaw

  • M. Svensson-Coelho

  • M. C. I. Medeiros

  • V. A. Ellis

  • S. Latta

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free