Abstract

Pigmented hemosporidian parasites that do not exhibit erthyrocytic schizogony, and infect birds, chelonians, and squamates, have been classified in various genera over time. These classifications have reflected vertebrate hosts, insect vectors, and variations in morphology and life history observed in representative species. Side-necked turtles (Podocnemis spp.) from the Peruvian Amazon were screened for hemoparasites and 2 species of hemosporid parasites infecting these hosts were observed. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of these new isolates, along with parasites from lizards, a snake, and a variety of Haemoproteus species from birds from both the Haemoproteus and Parahaemoproteus subgenera, strongly support the separation of the non-avian parasites into a separate genus. The name with precedent for this group is Haemocystidium Castellani and Willey 1909, and we propose that subgeneric classification of Haemocystidium and Simondia be applied to parasites of squamates and chelonians, respectively. We offer a description of Haemocystidium (Simondia) pacayae n. sp. and a redescription of Haemocystidium (Simondia) peltocephali (Lainson and Naiff 1998, n. comb.) Morphologically, the parasites are quite similar, with H. pacayae slightly more elongated than H. peltocephali. The discovery and identification of parasite species is urgent, especially in endangered species and wildlife inhabiting rapidly declining ecosystems such as the Amazon.

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