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Keywords:

  • cophylogeny;
  • lemurs;
  • Madagascar endemics;
  • parasites

Phylogeny of the mite subfamily Makialginae, permanent and highly specialized ectoparasites of strepsirrhine primates distributed in Madagascar and tropical Africa, was inferred based on morphology under maximum parsimony: Galagalges (Cheirogalalges (Makialges (Daubentonialges (Lemuralges, Gaudalges)))). Historical associations were reconstructed by fitting the mite tree onto alternative host topologies. Results of coevolutionary analyses highlight the disparity between morphological and molecular hypotheses on the host evolutionary history. Although phylogenetic relationships of strepsirrhine primates based on the morphological hypothesis returned significant fits to our parasite tree, the most recent molecular hypothesis of host phylogeny resulted in no coevolutionary scenario being different from random. Based on the former reconstructions, we hypothesize that present associations of Daubentoniidae, the earliest derivative extant family of Malagasy primates, acquired the present mite species via extinction of their original parasites and subsequent re-colonization by parasites from derived lemuriform families. Our data suggest that extant associations between Malagasy lemurs and their mites resulted from a single ancient codispersal to Madagascar from Africa. However, because of the host switch in Daubentoniidae, alternative, but less parsimonious, scenarios are possible. Our analyses indirectly support the hypothesis of the monophyletic origin of the infraorder Lemuriformes, the superfamily Lemuroidea, and the sister-group relationships between the families Lemuridae and Indriidae.

© 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 162, 1–14.