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Project manager
Dr. Costică Adam

Project presentation

Project title: Taxonomic revision of genera Penenirmus and Philopterus (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae) parasites on the representatives of family Sylviidae (Aves: Passeriformes)

Project code: PD-284

Project type: PNCDI II - RU - PD

Competition: 2010

Contract/Agreement: 121/28.07.2010

Funded by: The Executive Agency for Higher Education and Research Funding (UEFISCSU) (Romania)

Contracted by: "Grigore Antipa" National Museum of Natural History, Bucharest (Romania)

Length of project: 24 months (28th of July 2010 - 27th of July 2012) 

Total budget of project: 301.611 RON

The goal of the project:
     The purpose of this project is to clarify the taxonomic status of the species belonging to genera Penenirmus and Philopterus (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae) which are parasites on the representatives of the family Sylviidae (Aves: Passeriformes). Validation or invalidation of the species which are the subject of the proposed studies will be made both on the basis of the detailed analysis of the morphologic features and the setting of those with significant taxonomic value, and on the basis of the evaluation of the genetic differences between these species by the mitochondrial DNA sequency, represented by a part of the gene for cytochrome oxidase I. Finally, monographic descriptions will be made as well as an identification key for the species of each of the two genera.

Project summary:
     Chewing louse taxonomy (Insecta: Phthiraptera) often is strongly influenced by the taxonomy of the hosts. This is due to the fact that the chewing lice are permanent parasites, and this close association between them and their hosts often led to host-parasite cospeciation and coevolution along their phylogenetic history. Therefore, along time, many specialists considered that the host taxonomy can be used for separating the parasite species, many times ignoring the importance of their morphological features in this separation. This kind of approach was exaggerated and wrong, many times leading to many errors in the taxonomy of this group of ectoparasites. The first effect of these errors was the creation of a large number of synonymies, now being necessary to make some detailed taxonomic revisions for most of genera, especially for the polytypic ones, with a large distribution among hosts. Because of the large number of species which they include and of their distribution on several host families, in these genera, it is used to make the revision in stages, first after the host groups (in different taxonomic ranks, according to circumstances) and, finally, for the entire genus. This project focuses on genera Penenirmus and Philopterus (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae), parasited on the representatives of the family Sylviidae (Aves: Passeriformes). Genus Penenirmus includes 52 valid species, out of which 7 parasitize birds of the family Sylviidae, and genus Philopterus includes 173 valid species, out of which, also, 7 parasitize birds of the same family. The project have the following specific objectives: the complete morphological re-description of the already known species; the description of some new species basing on a recently collected material; the establishment of the taxonomic status of all studies species basing on the morphological features; the evaluation of the genetic distinctiveness of these species by the mitochondrial DNA sequences (COI gene).

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