A recent paper in this journal concerning parasites of rock pigeons (Columba livia) published by Ali and colleagues exemplifies a growing trend of misidentified parasites in the literature, despite increased online resources that should help facilitate accurate identification. In the Ali et al. paper, a pigeon louse in the genus Columbicola (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera) is misidentified as Menopon gallinae, which is a parasite of chickens (Gallus gallus) and their relatives; moreover, this louse is from an entirely different suborder of lice (Phthiraptera: Amblycera). Another louse is misidentified as Goniodes dissimilis, another parasite of chickens and junglefowl. In addition, photographs of cestodes from pigeons in the same paper are not sufficient to confirm identification. Misidentifications are fueled, in part, by increasing pressure to publish coupled with a decrease in taxonomic expertise. We consider the downstream consequences of misidentification and suggest guidelines for authors, reviewers, and editors that could help to improve the reliability of specimen-based research.

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