The bear tapeworm Diphyllobothrium ursi is described based upon the morphology of adult tapeworms recovered from the brown bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) and larval plerocercoids found in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) from Kodiak Island in Alaska in 1952. However, in 1987 D. ursi was synonymized with Diphyllobothrium dendriticum, and the taxonomic relationship between both species has not subsequently been revised. In this study mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene (cox1) sequences of holotype and paratype D. ursi specimens that had been preserved in a formalin-acetic acid-alcohol solution since the time the species was initially described approximately 60 yr ago were analyzed. Molecular and phylogenetic analysis of the cox1 sequences revealed that D. ursi is more closely related to D. dendriticum than it is to Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense and Diphyllobothrium latum. In addition to molecular evidence, differences in the life cycle and ecology of the larval plerocercoids between D. ursi and D. dendriticum also suggest that D. ursi is a distinct species, separate from D. dendriticum and D. nihonkaiense, and also possibly from D. latum.
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Vol. 98 • No. 6