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Keywords:

  • Anoplura;
  • biodiversity;
  • biogeography;
  • cophylogeny;
  • Hoplopleura;
  • Peru;
  • rodents;
  • Sigmodontinae;
  • sucking lice

We investigated the diversity, cophylogenetic relationships, and biogeography of hoplopleurid sucking lice (Phthiraptera: Anoplura) parasitizing rodents (Muridae: Sigmodontinae) in the Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve. Our morphological and molecular studies reveal that 15 distinct louse species parasitize 19 rodent species. Three of these louse species are new to science, and all but two of the host associations were previously unknown. We find that hoplopleurid lice in South America parasitize multiple host species across a large geographic area, and that Peru represents a new geographic locality for almost all the louse species collected in the present study. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear data reveal that the louse family Hoplopleuridae and the genera Hoplopleura and Pterophthirus are not monophyletic, and lice do not appear to group by host tribe, collecting locality, or collection elevation. The lack of monophyly for these apparently natural groups (taxonomic, locality, and elevation) indicates that host switching with or without parasite speciation may be prevalent among hoplopleurid lice. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 95, 598–610.