Forty (93%) of 43 northern pocket gophers (Thomomys talpoides) from the Jemez Mountains, Sandoval County, New Mexico (USA), had coccidian oocysts in their feces when examined. We describe this parasite, Eimeria jemezi, n. sp. Sporulated oocysts were subspheroidal, 13.3 by 12.2 (10 to 17 by 9 to 15) μm, with sporocysts ellipsoidal, 7.1 by 4.4 (5 to 9 by 4 to 5) μm; micropyle and oocyst residuum were absent, but polar bodies, Stieda bodies and sporocyst residua were present. All gophers were collected from two sites of similar habitat 7 km apart. One site (R ) had a high soil radon content (≥50 to 70 picocuries (pCi) per liter of air) whereas the other site (R −) had soils that were near average natural levels (1.2 to 1.6 pCi/g uranium nucleotides per gram of soil; <1.9 pCi/g thorium nucleotides). Twenty-one (88%) of 24 gophers from the R site had coccidian oocysts in their intestines when examined, but none of these oocysts ever sporulated, whereas all 19 (100%) gophers from the R− site had coccidian oocysts in their intestines and 16 (84%) of these samples sporulated normally under laboratory conditions. The elevated radon content of the soil may have had an adverse effect on the sporulation of this coccidian while it still was intracellular within its host.
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Vol. 30 • No. 3