Copyright American Society of Parasitologists 2012

Published in Journal of Parasitology, Vol. 98 No. 6 (2012) at doi: 10.1645/GE-3045.1


The Great American Interchange resulted in the mixing of faunistic groups with different origins and evolutionary trajectories that underwent rapid diversification in North and South America. As a result, groups of animals of recent arrival converged into similar habits and formed ecological guilds with some of the endemics. We present a reconstruction of the evolutionary events in Aspidoderidae, a family of nematodes that infect mammals that are part of this interchange, i.e., dasypodids, opossums, and sigmodontine, geomyid, and hystricognath rodents. By treating hosts as discrete states of character and using parsimony and Bayesian inferences to optimize these traits into the phylogeny of Aspidoderidae, we reconstructed Dasypodidae (armadillos) as the synapomorphic host for the family. In addition, 4 events of host switching were detected. One consisted of the switch from dasypodids to hystricognath rodents, and subsequently to geomyid rodents. The remaining set of events consisted of a switch from dasypodids to didelphid marsupials and then to sigmodontine rodents. The reconstruction of the ancestral distribution suggests 3 events of dispersal into the Nearctic. Two of these invasions would suggest that 2 different lineages of dasypodid parasites entered the Northern Hemisphere at different times, which is consistent with the presence of 2 lineages of armadillos in Mexico.