Jason Weckstein

Jason Weckstein
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University · Ornithology/Biodiversity Earth and Environmental Sciences

Ph.D.

About

272
Publications
27,718
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1,712
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2014 - present
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Position
  • Associate Curator

Publications

Publications (272)
Article
The avian feather louse Philopterus-complex (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera: Philopteridae) currently contains 12 genera that have been grouped together because of shared morphological characteristics. Although previously lumped into a single genus (Philopterus), more recent morphological treatments have separated the group into several different genera....
Article
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Avian haemosporidians from the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus are vector transmitted parasites. A growing body of evidence suggests that variation in their prevalence within avian communities is correlated with a variety of avian ecological traits. Here, we examine the relationship between infection probability and diversity of haemosporidian l...
Article
The factors that influence whether a parasite is likely to cause death in a given host species are not well known. Generalist parasites with high local abundances, broad distributions and the ability to infect a wide phylogenetic diversity of hosts are often considered especially dangerous for host populations, though comparatively little research...
Article
Myrsidea Waterston is the most diverse genus of chewing lice, primarily parasitizing perching birds (Passeriformes), which is the most speciose avian order. Myrsidea also parasitize several hosts from non-passerine groups, including toucans, barbets, woodpeckers (Piciformes) and hummingbirds (Apodiformes). To examine host specificity, host switchin...
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Aim: Macroecological analyses provide valuable insights into factors that influence how parasites are distributed across space and among hosts. Amid large uncertainties that arise when generalizing from local and regional findings, hierarchical approaches applied to global datasets are required to determine whether drivers of parasite infection pat...
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Parasite diversification is influenced by many of the same factors that affect speciation of free-living organisms, such as biogeographic barriers. However, the ecology and evolution of the host lineage also has a major impact on parasite speciation. Here we explore the interplay between biogeography and host-association on the pattern of diversifi...
Article
More than one-third of the bird species found in the Caribbean are endemic to a set of neighboring islands or a single island. However, we have little knowledge of the evolutionary history of the Caribbean avifauna, and the lack of phylogenetic studies limits our understanding of the extent of endemism in the region. The Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipit...
Preprint
Full-text available
Parasite diversification is influenced by many of the same factors that affect speciation of free-living organisms, such as biogeographic barriers. However, the ecology and evolution of the host lineage also has a major impact on parasite speciation. Here we explore the interplay between biogeography and host-association on the pattern of diversifi...
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Within animal hybrid zones, parasites may determine competitive outcomes between host species and thus affect hybridization dynamics. We addressed this hypothesis by evaluating haemosporidian prevalence and community composition in a rapidly moving hybrid zone between Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and Carolina Chickadees (P. caroli...
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Neotropical birds are mostly parasitized by immature ticks and act as reservoir hosts of tick-borne pathogens of medical and veterinary interest. Hence, determining the factors that enable ticks to encounter these highly mobile hosts and increase the potential for tick dispersal throughout migratory flyways are important for understanding tick-born...
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The foraging specialization of army ant-following birds has long intrigued ecologists and provided numerous questions such as why, how and when did this foraging guild specialization arise and evolve. Many of the answers to these questions have focused on ecological interactions such as predation and competition, whereas little has been done to stu...
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Megascops is the most species-rich owl genus in the New World, with 21 species currently recognized. Phylogenetic relationships within this genus are notoriously difficult to establish due to the considerable plumage similarity among species and polymorphism within species. Previous studies have suggested that the widespread lowland Amazonian M. wa...
Article
Host phylogenetic relatedness and ecological similarity are thought to contribute to parasite community assembly and infection rates. However, recent landscape level anthropogenic changes may disrupt host-parasite systems by impacting functional and phylogenetic diversity of host communities. We examined whether changes in host functional and phylo...
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Studies contrasting parasite prevalence and host-parasite community structure between pristine and disturbed environments will improve our understanding of how deforestation affects disease transmission and parasite extinction. To determine how infection rates of a common and diverse group of avian blood parasites (Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) resp...
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The eukaryotic blood parasite genus Trypanosoma includes several important pathogens of humans and livestock, but has been understudied in wildlife broadly. The trypanosomes that infect birds are in particular need of increased attention, as these parasites are abundant and globally distributed, yet few studies have addressed their evolutionary ori...
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Ticks are ectoparasites that feed on blood of a broad taxonomic range of terrestrial and flying vertebrates and are distributed across a wide range of environmental conditions. Here, we explore the biotic and abiotic factors on infestation probability of ticks of the genus Amblyomma and assess the degree of host specificity based on analysis of 102...
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Tinamous host the highest generic diversity of lice of any group of birds, as well as hosting representatives of all four avian feather louse ecomorphs. Although the generic diversity of tinamou feather lice is well documented, few attempts have been made to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships among these lice. To test whether tinamou feathe...
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1.Geographic variation in environmental conditions as well as host traits that promote parasite transmission may impact infection rates and community assembly of vector transmitted parasites. 2.Identifying the ecological, environmental, and historical determinants of parasite distributions and diversity is therefore necessary to understand disease...
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Nearly all lineages of birds host parasitic feather lice. Based on recent phylogenomic studies, the three major lineages of modern birds diverged from each other before the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction event. In contrast, studies of the phylogeny of feather lice on birds, indicate that these parasites diversified largely after this e...
Article
Fruit doves and their allies are a diverse group within the pigeon and dove family (Aves: Columbidae). Progress towards subfamilial classification of Columbidae relies on identifying major groups and the phylogenetic relationships within these groups. One such recently proposed group is the Raphinae based on previous evidence that the extinct dodo...
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Birds harbor a diverse group of haemosporidian parasites that reproduce and develop in the host blood cells, muscle tissue, and various organs, which can cause negative effects on the survival and reproduction of their avian hosts. Characterization of the diversity, distribution, host specificity, prevalence patterns, and phylogenetic relationships...
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Variation in susceptibility is ubiquitous in multi‐host, multi‐parasite assemblages, and can have profound implications for ecology and evolution in these systems. The extent to which susceptibility to parasites is phylogenetically conserved among hosts can be revealed by analysing diverse regional communities. We screened for haemosporidian parasi...
Article
Unlike most bird species, individual kingfisher species (Aves: Alcedinidae) are typically parasitized by only a single genus of louse ( Alcedoffula , Alcedoecus , or Emersoniella ). These louse genera are typically specific to a particular kingfisher subfamily. Specifically, Alcedoecus and Emersoniella parasitize Halcyoninae, whereas Alcedoffula pa...
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Identifying the ecological factors that shape parasite distributions remains a central goal in disease ecology. These factors include dispersal capability, environmental filters, and geographic distance. Using 520 haemosporidian parasite genetic lineages recovered from 7,534 birds sampled across tropical and temperate South America we tested 1) the...
Article
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Parasites with low host specificity (e.g. infecting a large diversity of host species) are of special interest in disease ecology, as they are likely more capable of circumventing ecological or evolutionary barriers to infect new hosts than are specialist parasites. Yet for many parasites, host specificity is not fixed and can vary in response to e...
Preprint
Full-text available
Variation in susceptibility is ubiquitous in multi-host, multi-parasite assemblages, and can have profound implications for ecology and evolution. The extent to which susceptibility is phylogenetically conserved among hosts is poorly understood and has rarely been appropriately tested. We screened for haemosporidian parasites in 3983 birds represen...
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Understanding factors that determine haemosporidian prevalence is critical in predicting how parasite and avian host populations will respond to environmental change. Here, we used molecular screening of blood samples from migrating Northern saw‐whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) in eastern North America to characterize haemosporidian infections and exa...
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The diversity of permanent ectoparasites is likely underestimated due to the difficulty of collecting samples. Lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) are permanent ectoparasites of birds and mammals; there are approximately 5,000 species described and many more undescribed, particularly in the Neotropics. We document the louse genera collected from birds sam...
Conference Paper
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Host switching has been shown to be the main evolutionary force in shaping associations between avian hosts and their haemosporidian parasites as well as speciation of the latter. In highly diverse ecosystems, such as the Amazon basin, high host and vector diversity may support cospeciation between specific haemosporidian parasites and avian hosts....
Poster
A description of my preliminary findings of haemosporidian diversity among Black-capped Chickadees, Carolina Chickadees, and hybrids between these two species in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Article
Full-text available
Identifying the mechanisms driving the distribution and diversity of parasitic organisms and characterizing the structure of parasite assemblages are critical to understanding host-parasite evolution, community dynamics, and disease transmission risk. Haemosporidian parasites of the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus are a diverse and cosmopolitan...
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Comparisons of host and parasite phylogenies often show varying degrees of phylogenetic congruence. However, few studies have rigorously explored the factors driving this variation. Multiple factors such as host or parasite morphology may govern the degree of phylogenetic congruence. An ideal analysis for understanding the factors correlated with c...
Article
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Understanding how pathogens and parasites diversify through time and space is fundamental to predicting emerging infectious diseases. Here, we use biogeographic, coevolutionary and phylogenetic analyses to describe the origin, diversity, and distribution of avian malaria parasites in the most diverse avifauna on Earth. We first performed phylogenet...
Article
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Birds harbor an astonishing diversity of haemosporidian parasites belonging to the genera Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, and Plasmodium. Currently there are over 250 morphologically described avian haemosporidian species and 2828 unique lineages infecting virtually all avian clades and zoogeographic regions, except for Antarctica. Our report is based...
Article
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The chewing louse genus Colpocephalum parasitizes nearly a dozen distantly related orders of birds. Such a broad host distribution is relatively unusual in lice. However, the monophyly of the genus Colpocephalum has never been tested using molecular characters. Using one nuclear and one mitochondrial gene, we inferred a phylogeny for 54 lice from t...
Conference Paper
Avian haemosporidians are a highly diverse group of blood parasites that includes representatives of three apicomplexan genera, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon. Brazilian Amazon supports world’s highest avian diversity (1300 species) and expected equally rich yet undescribed diversity of avian haemosporidians. This study is the first lar...
Chapter
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The collection of avian voucher specimens has long played an important role in studying the basic biology, ecology, and evolution of birds. However, symbionts (such as parasites and pathogens) of avian hosts have been largely neglected by ornithologists and are largely underrepresented in most major museum collections. Museum-oriented research expe...
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In the 1850s, two species of "Spotted" Nightingale-Thrush (Aves: Catharus) were independently described from montane rainforests of Guatemala, C. dryas (Gould, 1855) and Ecuador, C. maculatus (Sclater, 1858). However, due to similarities in plumage color, C. maculatus was reclassified as a subspecies of C. dryas in 1878, a decision that has been up...
Article
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Avian malaria is a vector transmitted disease caused by Plasmodium and recent studies suggest that variation in its prevalence across avian hosts is correlated with a variety of ecological traits. Here we examine the relationship between prevalence and diversity of Plasmodium lineages in southeastern Amazonia and: (1) host ecological traits (nest l...
Article
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Parasites of the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus (Apicomplexa: Haemosporida) are a diverse group of pathogens that infect birds nearly worldwide. Despite their ubiquity, the ecological and evolutionary factors that shape the diversity and distribution of these protozoan parasites among avian communities and geographic regions are poorly understo...
Conference Paper
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Host life history traits have been shown to affect the prevalence of avian malaria (Haemoproteus and Plasmodium). To understand avian malaria transmission risk in highly diverse Amazonian bird communities we analyzed four of these traits: 1) nest height, 2) nest type, 3) foraging height, and 4) flocking. These traits are potentially associated with...
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We compare the phylogeographical structure among caves for co-occurring cave dwelling crickets (Ceuthophilus) in two subgenera Ceuthophilus (Ceuthophilus) (hereafter, called Ceuthophilus) and Ceuthophilus (Geotettix) (hereafter, called Geotettix). In our study area (central Texas), cave-inhabiting members of the subgenus Ceuthophilus are trogloxene...
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Data is presented in support of a phylogenetic reconstruction of one of the largest, and most poorly understood, groups of lice: the Brueelia-complex (Bush et al., Mol. Phylogenetic Evol., [1]). Presented data include the voucher information and molecular data (GenBank accession numbers) of 334 ingroup taxa within the Brueelia-complex and 30 outgro...
Article
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Megascops screech-owls are endemic to the New World and range from southern Canada to the southern cone of South America. The 21 currently recognized Megascops species occupy a wide range of habitats and elevations, from desert to humid montane forest, and from sea level to the Andean tree line. Species and subspecies diagnoses of Megascops are not...
Article
Full-text available
Birds possess the most diverse assemblage of haemosporidian parasites; including three genera, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon. Currently there are over 200 morphologically identified avian haemosporidian species, although true species richness is unknown due to great genetic diversity and insufficient sampling in highly diverse regions...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Birds possess the most diverse assemblage of haemosporidian parasites, represented by three genera, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon. Currently there are over 200 morphologically identified avian haemosporidian species, although the true diversity is unknown, due to high genetic diversity and vastly insufficient in highly diverse habitat...
Article
Full-text available
Avian host life history traits have been hypothesized to predict rates of infection by haemosporidian parasites. Using molecular techniques, we tested this hypothesis for parasites from three haemosporidian genera (Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon) collected from a diverse sampling of birds in northern Malawi. We found that host life his...
Article
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Ten new species of Myrsidea Waterston, 1915 parasitic on members of the avian families Formicariidae, Thraupidae, Tyrannidae, Troglodytidae and Icteridae are described herein. They and their type hosts are M. isacantha sp. n. ex Chamaeza nobilis Gould, M. circumsternata sp. n. ex Formicarius colma Boddaert (Formicariidae); M. cacioppoi sp. n. ex La...