The latitudinal, but not the longitudinal, geographic range positions of haematophagous ectoparasites demonstrate historical signatures

Boris R. Krasnov, Georgy I. Shenbrot, Luther van der Mescht, Elizabeth M. Warburton, Irina S. Khokhlova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We tested whether geographic range position of fleas parasitic on small mammals in the Palearctic is affected by environmental niche conservatism or geographic range conservatism by measuring phylogenetic signal in range centroids and boundaries. We predicted that stronger phylogenetic signal in latitudinal than longitudinal range positions would indicate the important role of niche conservatism as a driver of the evolution of fleas’ geographic ranges. Phylogenetic signals in geographic range positions were measured across 120 species, as well as within five flea lineages (subfamily/family rank) of different evolutionary ages. To investigate the temporal pattern of the geographic range position's evolution, we fitted the phylogenetic patterns in the geographic coordinates of range centroids and border extremes to four models of trait evolution. We consistently detected significant phylogenetic signals in the latitudes of the range centroids and the northern range borders. The latitudes of the southern range borders and the longitudes of the eastern/western borders demonstrated phylogenetic signals less often, whereas no signal was found for the longitudes of the range centroids. The phylogenetic signal in range position was more pronounced in younger lineages. The phylogenetic signal indices mainly suggested the evolution of range positions according to the Brownian motion model, whereas the best fit was often provided by the Orstein-Uhlenbeck model. This contradiction forced us to invoke a parsimonious explanation that the phylogenetic signal in range positions results from the interplay between the footprint of the speciation pattern and limited dispersal from the ancestral ranges.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)743-749
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Fleas
  • Geographic range position
  • Model of trait evolution
  • Palearctic
  • Phylogenetic signal

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology


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