Freshwater snails are commonly studied within the context of their role as intermediate hosts for digenetic trematodes. However, there are fundamental data deficiencies related to our understanding of directly transmitted parasites, such as coccidia, for freshwater snails. Because variation in coccidia pathogenicity and transmission among snail species likely has major impacts on snail community structure, we aimed to investigate the spatial distribution and prevalence of coccidia in several freshwater snail species throughout the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains ecoregions in Arkansas. We opportunistically collected 220 freshwater snails from 24 Ozark sites in summer 2022 and scanned fecal slides for the presence of coccidia. In summer 2023, we surveyed an additional 146 snails from 19 Ouachita sites. To test for apparent interactions among coccidia and trematodes, we scanned feces from a subset of snails (Physa and Planorbella in the Ozarks) that did not have concurrent trematode infections and from those that did. We observed oocysts that morphologically conformed to Pfeifferinella ellipsoides in 2 of the 9 snail taxa from 7 of the 43 sites. Planorbella trivolvis was infected at 2 of 6 sites in the Ozarks and 0 of 5 sites in the Ouachitas. Physa species were infected at 6 of 14 sites in the Ozarks and 0 of 12 sites in the Ouachitas. In the Ozarks, Pl. trivolvis had an overall prevalence of 0.13 (6 of 47), whereas individuals in the genus Physa had an overall prevalence of 0.08 (8 of 97). Our chi-square and Fisher exact tests revealed no significant evidence for trematode–coccidia competition or synergism within the two snail species. There were no other species infected, and we did not observe any coccidia in the snails from the Ouachitas. Our survey of 366 snails among 9 taxa and 43 sites represents the largest survey for freshwater snail coccidia to date and indicates that both Pl. trivolvis and Physa spp. may be primary hosts and/or reservoir hosts for Pf. ellipsoides in freshwater snail communities. The highly aggregated distribution of Pf. ellipsoides in northwestern Arkansas requires further investigation. Our results led to proposal of several hypotheses for additional research, including questions regarding the variation of coccidia host specificity and virulence.

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