Diversity and distribution of coccidia of wild birds in an Atlantic forest fragment area in southeastern Brazil

Abstract Coccidia are protozoan parasites that are frequently observed in fecal samples from wild birds, and they are extremely important for biodiversity, host specificity and conservation. The aim of the present study was to identify and quantify the coccidian species from wild birds caught in a fragmented area of Atlantic Forest in the municipality of Guapimirim in the state of Rio de Janeiro, which is located around the Serra dos Órgãos National Park. A total of 101 birds were caught and identified. The highest prevalence and density were observed in the family Columbidae (Columbiformes). Among the families of Passeriformes, the highest prevalences and densities were of birds in the families Thraupidae and Turdidae. The majority of the positive samples and those with higher densities were collected in the afternoons. Eleven coccidian species of Isospora and Eimeria were identified. Seven of these species that were morphologically identified are undescribed in the scientific literature and are believed to be new species. The present study highlights the wide distribution and dispersion of coccidia of wild birds in southeastern Brazil, and records the municipality of Guapimirim, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, as a new locality for parasitism, along with the new hosts recorded.