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  1. Adaptive radiation is an important mechanism of organismal diversification and can be triggered by new ecological opportunities. Although poorly studied in this regard, parasites are an ideal group in which to study adaptive radiations because of their close associations with host species. Both experimental and comparative studies suggest that the ectoparasitic wing lice of pigeons and doves have adaptively radiated, leading to differences in body size and overall coloration. Here, we show that long-distance dispersal by dove hosts was central to parasite diversification because it provided new ecological opportunities for parasites to speciate after host-switching. We further show that among extant parasite lineages host-switching decreased over time, with cospeciation becoming the more dominant mode of parasite speciation. Taken together, our results suggest that host dispersal, followed by host-switching, provided novel ecological opportunities that facilitated adaptive radiation by parasites.
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 21, 2023