Pocket gophers and chewing lice: a test of the maternal transmission hypothesis


J. W. Demastes Fax: +01-504-388-3075; E-mail: zodema@unix1.sncc.lsu.edu


The life-history traits of pocket gophers and their chewing lice suggest that there is little opportunity for transmission of parasites among pocket gophers, with the exception of transmission from mother to offspring. Herein, we test the hypothesis that lice are transmitted maternally by using an indirect approach that compares the distribution of louse populations to the distribution of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes in the pocket gophers. Comparison of the chewing louse distributions to the distribution of mtDNA haplotypes for the gophers revealed no significant concordance, and thus falsifies the maternal transmission hypothesis.