Abstract

Marshallagia lichtenfelsi sp. n. is a dimorphic ostertagiine nematode occurring in the abomasum of mountain goats, Oreamnos americanus, from the Western Cordillera of North America. Major and minor morphotype males and females are characterized and distinguished relative to the morphologically similar Marshallagia marshalli/Marshallagia occidentalis from North America and Marshallagia dentispicularis, along with other congeners, from the Palearctic region. The configuration of the convoluted and irregular synlophe in the cervical region of males and females of M. lichtenfelsi is apparently unique, contrasting with a continuous and parallel system of ridges among those species of Marshallagia, including M. marshalli/M. occidentalis, which have been evaluated. Specimens of M. lichtenfelsi are further defined by the rectangular form of the accessory bursal membrane (width > length) in the major morphotype and by the trapezoidal Sjöberg's organ in the minor morphotype, in addition to specific attributes of the spicules and spicule tips. We regard 12 species, including the proposed new taxon, to be valid. Primary diagnostic characters are reviewed for Marshallagia and a framework is presented for standardization of future descriptions incorporating the synlophe in males and females and the structure of the spicules and genital cone in major and minor morphotype males. The center of diversity for species of Marshallagia is the mountain–steppe region of central Eurasia where 11 species (including the Holarctic M. marshalli) are recognized in association with Caprini, Rupicaprini, and Antelopinae; only 2 species occur in the Nearctic. In this assemblage, M. lichtenfelsi is endemic to North America and limited in host distribution to mountain goats. An intricate history for refugial isolation and population fragmentation demonstrated for mountain goats and wild sheep indicates the potential for considerable cryptic diversity for Marshallagia and other nematodes. Shifting patterns of contact and sympatry among assemblages of ungulates during the Pleistocene are consistent with geographic and host colonization as a process involved in diversification of these parasites.

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