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Do fleas (Insecta: Siphonaptera) parallel their mammal host diversification in the Mexican transition zone?


*Juan J. Morrone, Museo de Zoología ‘Alfonso L. Herrera’, Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Apdo. postal 70-399, 04510 Mexico DF, Mexico.


Aim  The Mexican transition zone is a complex area where Neotropical and Nearctic biotic elements overlap. A previous study on mammal species has shown a great diversification in the area. We analyse the diversification of their flea species (Insecta: Siphonaptera), in order to determine if a diversification similar to their mammal host species has occurred.

Location  The area analysed corresponds to Mexico.

Methods  The panbiogeographical or track analysis was based on the comparison of the individual tracks of 112 species belonging to 48 genera and eight families of the order Siphonaptera. Generalized tracks were obtained based on the comparison of the individual tracks. Nodes were found in the areas where generalized tracks overlapped.

Results  Thirty-four generalized tracks were obtained, distributed within the Mexican transition zone (20), the Nearctic region plus the Mexican transition zone (8), the Nearctic region (4) and the Neotropical region plus the Mexican transition zone (2). In the areas where they intersected, 26 nodes were identified: 23 in the Mexican transition zone and 3 in the Nearctic region.

Main conclusions  The nodes are concentrated in the Transmexican Volcanic Belt (14), Sierra Madre Oriental (5) and Sierra Madre del Sur (4) provinces of the Mexican transition zone. These results show a significant diversification of the flea taxa, in parallel with the diversification of their mammal hosts.