• Cospeciation;
  • host specificity;
  • host switch;
  • Myotis ;
  • Spinturnix


Host specificity in parasites can be explained by spatial isolation from other potential hosts or by specialization and speciation of specific parasite species. The first assertion is based on allopatric speciation, the latter on differential lifetime reproductive success on different available hosts. We investigated the host specificity and cophylogenetic histories of four sympatric European bat species of the genus Myotis and their ectoparasitic wing mites of the genus Spinturnix. We sampled >40 parasite specimens from each bat species and reconstructed their phylogenetic COI trees to assess host specificity. To test for cospeciation, we compared host and parasite trees for congruencies in tree topologies. Corresponding divergence events in host and parasite trees were dated using the molecular clock approach. We found two species of wing mites to be host specific and one species to occur on two unrelated hosts. Host specificity cannot be explained by isolation of host species, because we found individual parasites on other species than their native hosts. Furthermore, we found no evidence for cospeciation, but for one host switch and one sorting event. Host-specific wing mites were several million years younger than their hosts. Speciation of hosts did not cause speciation in their respective parasites, but we found that diversification of recent host lineages coincided with a lineage split in some parasites.