Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hitch-hiking with birds for life

15.05.2012
Although chewing lice spend their entire lives as parasites on birds, it is difficult to predict patterns of lice distribution, new research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, reveals.

Researcher Daniel Gustafsson has studied chewing lice on sandpipers around the world and investigated how host birds' migration patterns affect louse distribution and reationships.

With no wings and very small eyes, chewing lice are, by and large, helpless away from their host.

Daniel Gustafsson has studied species of chewing lice that live on the birds' wings and compared them with species that live on their body feathers.

"Given that chewing lice are almost totally dependent on direct contact between two birds to spread, lice that sit on birds' wings should find it easier to use occasional contact between two hosts to spread than those that sit closer to birds' bodies," Daniel Gustafsson says.

Unexpected results
But contrary to expectation, it would appear that body lice can spread more easily than wing lice, even though they live on parts of their host that less frequently come into contact with other birds.

"This is surprising as body lice should be more limited to one particular species of bird," Daniel Gustafsson says. "The real opportunities for spreading should be between parents and their offspring in the nest, or between adult birds during mating."

Genetic and morphological data from two different genera show complicated patterns.

"Wing lice from small bird host species are found on more host species than those that parasitize larger bird host species," Daniel Gustafsson says.

Genetically almost identical
Another unexpected result is that the body lice on almost all sandpipers worldwide, with the exception of those on dunlins and ruffs, are genetically almost identical.

"Sandpipers are incredibly mobile," Daniel Gustafsson says. "They breed around the Polar Circle but fly to the tropics during the Arctic winter, following specific migration routes known as flyways."

He has studied sandpipers in Sweden, Japan, Australia, and Canada.

When sandpipers migrate, they do so in enormous flocks, often tens of thousands strong and containing several different species. These winter flocks should offer excellent opportunities for the lice to spread as the birds often stand in tight groups at high tide and at night.

"But it would appear that several factors other than geography play a role, including the size of the host bird," Daniel Gustafsson explains. "Specific rest and wintering environments probably play a role, too, as some of the host birds that generally winter in fresh water localities carry species of wing lice that differ from those that live on bird species that are mainly found on the seashore."

Common on mammals
Some chewing lice have also been found hitch-hiking on louse flies, which are related to deer flies. In such cases they attach themselves to the louse flies' legs and abdomen.

Other chewing lice have been seen to switch between host ducks by walking on the water surface.

Chewing lice are common in birds and most groups of mammals. There are two species that live on humans: pubic lice and head lice.

The thesis has been successfully defended.

Bibliographic data:
Authors: Gustafsson, D. R., Olsson, U. (2012).
Title: Flyway homogenisation or differentiation? Insights from the phylogeny of the sandpiper (Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae: Calidrinae) wing louse genus Lunaceps (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera).
Journal: International Journal for Parasitology, 42, 93–102.
Link to paper: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020751911002773
For more information, please contact: Daniel Gustafsson, Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg
Telephone: +46 (0)31 786 3666
Mobile: +46 (0)761 166 349
E-mail: daniel.gustafsson@bioenv.gu.se

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://www.gu.se
http://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/28858

Further reports about: birds' migration body lice hitch-hiking morphological data

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Colorectal cancer risk factors decrypted
13.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

nachricht Algae Have Land Genes
13.07.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>