Pikas, small lagomorphs that live at high elevations across western North America and Central Asia, have a complex history of intercontinental exchange. Previous work on the tapeworms (genus Schizorchis) of pikas suggested that there were two separate waves of colonization into North America from Asia. One of these colonizations occurred during the Pliocene and another occurred during the Late Pleistocene. However, this earlier study did not include complete sampling of Schizorchis diversity. Depending on the phylogenetic placement of Schizorchis species that were not previously sampled, the timing of the earliest pika colonization of North America could be called into question, potentially suggesting that North American Schizorchis arrived in a single colonization event. To evaluate this possibility, I am adding new DNA sequence data - collected from Asia - that represents additional Schizorchis lineages. By doing so, we are reconstructing the evolutionary history of these lineages and providing a more complete picture of the history of pika colonization between Asia and North America.
Dr. Kurt Galbreath
Faculty Advisor Email
Siuda, Cora M., "Evaluating Pika Colonization Through Parasite Histories" (2021). Celebration of Student Scholarship. 23.