Department of Biology
University of New Mexico
My Ph.D. research project is investigating evolutionary relationships among chipmunks and among their parasites. Chipmunks commonly host two species of sucking lice and two species of pinworm. They may host other ecto- or endoparasites, however the sucking lice and the pinworms are by far the most common. My project uses DNA sequences to reconstruct genetic relationships within each species of parasite (phylogenies). These phylogenies will be examined for host-specific structure and geographic structure.
Sucking lice (Order Phthiraptera) are obligate ectoparasites. They have a direct life cycle which is completed entirely on the host. They are transmitted from one host to another by contact. The chipmunks in western North America (subgenus Neotamias) carry two species of sucking lice, Hoplopluera arboricola and Neohaematopinus pacificus. One individual may host both species of lice simultaneously.
Pinworms (Order Oxyurida) are obligate endoparasites. They have a direct life cycle completed in the gastro-intestinal tract of the host. Pinworms are transmitted when eggs are shed in the feces of one host and ingested by another (or possibly the same) host. Three species of pinworm have been reported from Neotamias, however I have only encountered two, the other one is likely restricted to a portion of Utah and I have no samples from there. The two species I am working with are Heteroxynema cucullatum and Syphacia eutamii. As with the lice, one individual chipmunk may host both species of pinworm simultaneously.
Hoplopluera Neohaematopinus Heteroxynema cucullatum Syphacia eutamii
My M.S. research was conducted at Idaho State University and Dr. Marjorie Matocq was my advisor. My thesis research was on the phylogeography of the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis) and their sister species the round-tailed ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus) as well as investigating the frequency of hybridization between the two species and levels of genetic diversity and gene flow among Mohave ground squirrel populations. That research has resulted in the publications below. Please email me if you would like a copy of these publications.
Bell, K.C. & M.D. Matocq. Regional genetic subdivision in the Mohave ground squirrel: evidence of historic isolation and ongoing connectivity in a Mojave Desert endemic. Animal Conservation. In press. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2011.00435.x
Bell, K.C., D.J. Hafner, P. Leitner, & M.D. Matocq. 2010. Phylogeography of the ground squirrel subgenus Xerospermophilus and assembly of the Mojave Desert biota. Journal of Biogeography 37: 363-378. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02202.x
Bell, K.C. & M.D. Matocq. 2010. Development and characterization of polymorphic microsatellite loci in the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis). Conservation Genetics Resources 2: 197-199. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02202.x