University of Oulu

Lehikoinen A, Pohjola P, Valkama J, Mutanen M, Pohjoismäki JLO (2021) Promiscuous specialists: Host specificity patterns among generalist louse flies. PLoS ONE 16(5): e0247698.

Promiscuous specialists : host specificity patterns among generalist louse flies

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Author: Lehikoinen, Aleksi1; Pohjola, Pekka2; Valkama, Jari1;
Organizations: 1The Helsinki Lab of Ornithology, Finnish Museum of Natural History, Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland
3Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Public Library of Science, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-09-13


Ectoparasites such as louse flies (Diptera: Hippoboscidae) have tendency for host specialization, which is driven by adaptation to host biology as well as competition avoidance between parasites of the same host. However, some louse fly species, especially in genera attacking birds, show wide range of suitable hosts. In the presented study, we have surveyed the current status of bird specific louse flies in Finland to provide comprehensive host association data to analyse the ecological requirements of the generalist species. A thorough sampling of 9342 birds, representing 134 species, recovered 576 specimens of louse flies, belonging to six species: Crataerina hirundinis, C. pallida, Ornithomya avicularia, O. chloropus, O. fringillina and Ornithophila metallica. Despite some overlapping hosts, the three Ornithomya species showed a notable pattern in their host preference, which was influenced not only by the host size but also by the habitat and host breeding strategy. We also provide DNA barcodes for ten Finnish species of Hippoboscidae, which can be used as a resource for species identification as well as metabarcoding studies in the future.

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Series: PLoS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
ISSN-E: 1932-6203
ISSN-L: 1932-6203
Volume: 16
Issue: 5
Article number: e0247698
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0247698
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: The Finnish Barcode of Life campaign has been funded by the Kone Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, and the Academy of Finland (through FinBIF research infrastructure project). Aleksi Lehikoinen received funding from Academy of Finland (grants 323527 and 329251).
Dataset Reference: All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files. The DNA barcodes with sample details are available from the Barcode of Life database, as a public dataset of DS-FINHIPPO at, including GenBank accession numbers.
Copyright information: © 2021 Lehikoinen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.