Daniel Leo Gustafsson
Postdoctoral Fellow

(801) 585-9742



I have been told that I learned to read using a huge book called “The Animals of the World”, because my parents read this book too slowly for my taste. Twenty years later, that fascination with animals resulted in getting first my M.Sc. and then my Ph.D. in invertebrate phylogenetics, taxonomy, and systematics at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden). By now, I have studied animals on four continents, and see no reason to stop.

I am currently doing my post-doc at the University of Utah, working with the taxonomy and systematics of chewing lice on birds. The primary focus of my research is lice on songbirds (Passeriformes), but the louse collection here at the U is among the most diverse in the world, and occasionally I cannot help myself from working with lice on other groups of birds. Regardless of the hosts, however, some themes run through most of my research interests.

It is sometimes assumed that the geographical distribution of lice is similar to the sum of the geographic distributions of their hosts. As the phylogeny of lice has also traditionally been assumed to mirror the phylogeny of their hosts (a phenomenon known as Fahrenholz’ rule), this would imply that the distribution of lice in the world is entirely dependent on the distribution of their hosts. Yet whether we look at the Lunaceps and Carduiceps lice of sandpipers, the Brueelia-complex and Menacanthus lice of songbirds, or the Anaticola lice of ducks, we find that the biogeographical and host distribution patterns of lice are markedly different from those of their hosts.

The host distribution of chewing lice is also not straightforward in all cases. In some cases, lice in a given genus are limited to subsections of the host family they parasitize, or occur on all hosts in a given family as well as one or two other host species in different families. In isolation, these cases may not be very interesting, but put together, they can reveal many interesting patterns of the higher systematics and deeper evolutionary co-history between the lice and their hosts. Often, this kind of pattern is obscured by poor species descriptions or hidden in undescribed specimens in museums. Much of my work is to use these museum specimens to find patterns and describe new species, so that we may get a better understanding of the evolutionary history of lice, even in cases where we cannot get fresh material to study.

A third part of my present research is on the functional morphology of mating, focusing on the evolution and use of secondary sexual dimorphism in different parts of the chewing louse anatomy. These dimorphic characters are often convergent between distantly related lice, and seem to be tied closely to microhabitat adaptation. As precise microhabitat data is generally absent for most species of chewing lice, and most groups of lice are difficult to study alive, understanding the underlying causes for the morphology of different groups of lice may give invaluable insights into the ecology and evolution of these animals.

Listening for Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus Gmelin, 1788, in Sweden.



Light, J.E., Nessner, C.E., Gustafsson, D.R., Wise, S.R., Voelker, G. (2016). Remarkable levels of avian louse (Insecta: Phthiraptera) diversity in the Congo Basin. Zoologica Scripta, in press. PDF

Escalante, G.C., Sweet, A.D., McCracken, K.G., Gustafsson, D.R., Wilson, R.E., Johnson, K.P. (2016). Patterns of cryptic host specificity in duck lice based on molecular data. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, in press. PDF

Bush, S.E., Weckstein, J.D., Gustafsson, D.R., Allen, J., DiBlasi, E., Shreve, S.M., Boldt, R., Skeen, H.R. & Johnson, K.P. (2016). Unlocking the black box of feather louse diversity: a molecular phylogeny of the hyper-diverse genus Brueelia. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 94, 737–751. PDF

Bush, S.E., Weckstein, J.D., Gustafsson, D.R., Allen, J., DiBlasi, E., Shreve, S.M., Boldt, R., Skeen, H.R. & Johnson, K.P. (2016). Data supporting a molecular phylogeny of the hyper-diverse genus Brueelia. Data in Brief, 5, 1078–1091. PDF

Martinu, J., Sychra, O., Literák, I., Capek, M., Gustafsson, D.L., Stefka, J. (2015). Host generalists and specialists emerging side by side: an analysis of evolutionary patterns in the cosmopolitan chewing louse genus Menacanthus. International Journal for Parasitology, 45, 63-73. PDF

Gustafsson, D.R., Tsurumi, M., Bush, S.E. (2015). The chewing lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera: Ischnocera, Amblycera) of Japanese pigeons and doves (Aves: Columbiformes), with descriptions of three new species. Journal of Parasitology, 101, 304–313. PDF

Gustafsson, D.R., Bush, S.E. (2015) Four new species of Brueelia Kéler, 1936 (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera: Philopteridae) from African songbirds (Passeriformes: Sturnidae and Laniidae). Zootaxa, 4013, 503–518. PDF

Coulson, S.J., Convey, P., Aakra, K., Aarvik, L., Ávila-Jiménez, M.L., Babenko, A., Biersma, E.M., Boström, S., Brittain, J.E., Carlsson, A.M., Christoffersen, K., De Smet, W.H., Ekrem, T., Fjellberg, A., Füderer, L., Gustafsson, D., Gwiazdowicz, D.J., Hansen, L.O., Holmstrup, M., Hullé, M., Kaczmarek, Ł., Kolicka, M., Kuklin, V., Lakka, H.-K., Lebedeva, N., Makarova, O., Maraldo, K., Melekhina, E., Ødegaard, F., Pilskog, H.E., Simon, J.C., Sohlenius, B., Solhøy, T., Søli, G., Stur, E., Tanasevich, A., Taskaeva, A., Velle, G., Zawierucha, K., Zmudczynska-Skarbek, K. (2014). The terrestrial and freshwater invertebrate biodiversity of the archipelagoes of the Barents Sea; Svalbard, Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 68, 440-470. PDF

Gustafsson, D.R., Bush, S.E. (2014). Three new species of chewing lice of the genus Emersoniella Tendeiro, 1965 (Insecta: Phthiraptera: Ischnocera: Philopteridae) from Papua New Guinean kingfishers and kookaburras (Aves: Coraciiformes: Alcedinidae). Zootaxa, 3796: 528-544. PDF

Gustafsson, D.R., Bush, S.E. (2014) Two new species of Paraphilopterus Mey, 2004 (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera: Philopteridae) from New Guinean bowerbirds (Passeriformes: Ptilonorhynchidae) and satinbirds (Passeriformes: Cnemophilidae). Zootaxa, 3873: 155–164. PDF

Sundin, R., Gustafsson, D.R., Prous, M., Álvaro, M.P., Larson, E., Ibarguren, I.O., Stålstedt, J., Hansson, C., Stigenberg, J., Kånneby, T., Hansen, K., Jaschhof, M., Arup, U. (2014). Tolv forskare på jakt efter det okända livet runtom i Sverige. Fauna och Flora, 109: 48-58. PDF

Jałozynski, P., Gustafsson, D.R., Wanat, A., Wanat, M. (2014). Type specimens of Phthiraptera in the collection of Jadwiga Złotorzycka preserved in the Museum of Natural History, University of Wroclaw. Genus, 25, 645-661. PDF

Gustaffson, D. R., Price, D.A. Erséus, C. (2009) Genetic variation in the popular lab worm Lumbriculus variegatus (Annelida:Clitellata: Lumbriculidae) reveals cryptic speciation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 51: 182-189. PDF

Erséus, C., Gustaffson, D. R. (2009) Cryptic Speciation in Clitellate Model Organisms: Annelids in Modern Biology, Edited by Daniel H. Shain, Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp 31-46 PDF

Publications (on Phthiraptera only):

Gustafsson, D.R., Olsson, U. (2012). Flyway homogenisation or differentiation? Insights from the phylogeny of the sandpiper (Charadriiformes: Scolopacidae: Calidrinae) wing louse genus Lunaceps (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera). International Journal for Parasitology, 42, 93-102. PDF

Gustafsson, D.R., Olsson, U. (2012). The “Very Thankless Task”: Revision of Lunaceps Clay and Meinertzhagen, 1939 (Insecta: Phthiraptera: Ischnocera: Philopteridae), with descriptions of six new species and one new subspecies. Zootaxa, 3377, 1-85. PDF