Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Locating lice as they hitch-hike with birds for life

Date:
May 14, 2012
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Although chewing lice spend their entire lives as parasites on birds, it is difficult to predict patterns of lice distribution, new research reveals.

Researcher Daniel Gustafsson has studied chewing lice on sandpipers around the world and investigated how host birds' migration patterns affect louse distribution and relationships.
Credit: University of Gothenburg

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.

Related Articles


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

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel R. Gustafsson, Urban Olsson. Flyway homogenisation or differentiation? Insights from the phylogeny of the sandpiper (Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae: Calidrinae) wing louse genus Lunaceps (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera). International Journal for Parasitology, 2012; 42 (1): 93 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2011.11.003

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Locating lice as they hitch-hike with birds for life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514134259.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2012, May 14). Locating lice as they hitch-hike with birds for life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514134259.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Locating lice as they hitch-hike with birds for life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120514134259.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins