The Socorro dove Zenaida graysoni, endemic to Socorro Island, was last reported in the wild in 1972. Fortunately, the species has been propagated in zoos in Europe and the United States, and plans are under way to re-introduce it to its native habitat. This will be the first known attempt to return a bird species extinct in the wild to its ancestral island. In order to assess the disease threats the Socorro dove may face, the avifauna of Socorro Island, with a specific focus on Socorro ground doves Columbina passerina socorroensis and mourning doves Zenaida macroura, as well as Socorro doves in captivity, were screened for blood parasites of the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, and Trypanosoma spp. We found Haemoproteus spp. in 17 (74%) of 23 Socorro ground doves, 23 (92%) of 25 mourning doves, and 3 (14%) of 21 northern mockingbirds; none of the other bird species showed infections. Here, we report the phylogenetic analysis of 19 distinct lineages of Haemoproteus spp. detected in birds of Socorro Island and compare their evolutionary relationships to parasites detected in the avifauna of the Galápagos Islands, continental Latin America, and Europe. Microscopic examination revealed 1 mourning dove infected with Plasmodium(Haemamoeba), thus underscoring the importance of using both PCR and microscopy when analyzing avian blood samples for hemosporidian parasites. The study confirms that the Socorro dove will most likely be exposed to Haemoproteus spp. that currently infect mourning doves and Socorro ground doves of Socorro Island. A monitoring program for both birds and vectors should be implemented to establish the prevalence of Plasmodium sp. and as a necessary conservation measure for critically endangered birds on the island.

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