Birds harbor an astonishing diversity of haemosporidian parasites belonging to the genera Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, and Plasmodium. Currently there are more than 250 morphologically described avian haemosporidian species and 2,828 unique lineages found in virtually all avian clades and zoogeographic regions, except for Antarctica. Our report is based on PCR and microscopic screening of 1,302 individual avian samples from Brazil to detect the underrepresented genus Leucocytozoon. This survey primarily focuses on passerine birds collected from Amazonia, the Atlantic Rain Forest, and Pantanal. We also summarize studies conducted in Brazil that report haemosporidian prevalence using both microscopy and molecular tools and present for the first time a record of Leucocytozoon infecting an avian host population in Amazonia. Based on our findings, we suggest that high average temperatures may be constraining both the distribution and diversity of Leucocytozoon in lowland tropical South America.
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Vol. 104 • No. 2