Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




The genus Plocopsylla Jordan, 1931 (Siphonaptera: Stephanocircidae) is revised. A key to the 23 species is presented which includes the 11 species described since Del Ponte constructed his Key in 1977. The sternite IX, movable process and clasper with its mesal process are male structures of taxonomic importance because each is species specific. There is no single character in the female that is species specific. The spermatheca of each species can be assigned to one of four morphological types and, as a result, it is of taxonomic significance only when used in conjunction with other characters. Classifying Plocopsylla species according to similarities of species-specific characters is important when considering the phylogeny of the genus or family. The three male characters provide the basis for the classification of species below the genus level with Species Group A consisting of four subgroups and Species Group B consisting of two subgroups. Plocopsylla pallas and P. traubi are excluded until male representatives are collected or until a useful female character is discovered. Illustrations for each species include the sternite IX, movable process and clasper of the male and the spermatheca of the female. Based on examined material, the host specificity trends of certain Plocopsylla species do not appear to coincide with host specificity trends within the siphonapteran order as reported by Traub (1985). Host specificity as it relates to Plocopsylla females misidentified by Jordan (1931a, b) as P. chiris and P. phobos also is discussed. Coevolution between Plocopsylla and their hosts is based, in part, on coevolutionary trends of the genal and pronotal combs in the siphonapteran order as observed by Traub (1980, 1985). Stephanocircids also have helmet combs that may reflect the nature of the host pelage. This is indicated in the research by Traub and Dunnet (1973) and in the material examined for this study. Such evidence, in conjunction with incomplete host lists, strongly indicates that rodents are the true or important hosts for Plocopsylla species and that marsupials and insectivores are accidental or occasional hosts.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Beth Ann Schramm



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219 pages

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Entomology Commons