Host selection and niche differentiation in sucking lice (Insecta: Anoplura) among small mammals in southwestern China.

Research paper by Xiao-Hua XH Zuo, Xian-Guo XG Guo, Yin-Zhu YZ Zhan, Dian D Wu, Zhi-Hua ZH Yang, Wen-Ge WG Dong, Li-Qin LQ Huang, Tian-Guang TG Ren, Yong-Guang YG Jing, Qiao-Hua QH Wang, Xiao-Mei XM Sun, Shang-Jin SJ Lin

Indexed on: 09 Dec '10Published on: 09 Dec '10Published in: Parasitology Research


Understanding factors that shape host selection has been a classic issue in ecology, evolutionary biology, and epidemiological investigation. During the survey from 2000 to 2009, a total of 11,216 individuals of small mammals were captured from Yunnan Province in southwestern China. The captured small mammalian hosts belong to five orders, ten families, 35 genera, and 65 species and from their body surface, 38,885 individuals of ectoparasitic sucking lice were collected, which represent five families, seven genera, and 31 species. Based on niche overlap of dominant sucking lice on their primary hosts, we used hierarchical cluster analysis to sort different sucking louse species' resource utilizations of similar kind into respective categories. Given λ<5, there are only two groups clustered, however, sucking louse species' resource utilization was sorted into eight respective categories at λ=15. The results revealed that most species of sucking lice usually had high host specificity and a certain species of sucking louse usually restricted to one or few small mammalian species as their dominant hosts. Correspondence analysis was used to visualize associations between parasitic sucking lice and their small mammalian hosts, which suggested three different patterns of host resource utilization: species specialists, genera generalists, and multiple selections. For example, Sathrax durus (Johnson) only parasitized on species of Tupaia belangeri (Wagner), Hoplopleura edentula (Fahredholz) predominatly on genus of Eothenomys, and Polyplax reclinata (Nitzsch) on Family of Soricidae. Our results demonstrate that sucking lice have high host specificity and this might be due to coevolution between sucking lice and their hosts.