Date of this Version
Fifty-two fecal samples from the Plateau pika, Ochotona curzoniae, collected in the Haibei Area, Qinghai Province, China, were examined for the presence of coccidia (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae). Five distinct morphotypes, all Eimeria species, were distinguished based on the structure of their sporulated oocysts. Three of these included Eimeria banffensis, Eimeria calentinei, and Eimeria cryptobarretti, all of which have been described previously from other Ochotona species. We also studied 2 morphotypes that we feel have sufficient qualitative and quantitative characters to distinguish them from all previously described species; herein, we identify them as putative new species. Eimeria qinghaiensis n. sp. was found in 18/52 (35%) O. curzoniae. It has ovoidal oocysts with a 3-layered wall, with a rough outermost layer and a micropyle, ~9 mm wide. Sporulated oocysts are 37.2 3 27.2 (34-41 × 24-32) mm; 1 polar granule is present, but an oocyst residuum is absent. Sporocysts are ovoidal, 16.6 × 9.8 (14-19 × 9-11) μm with a Stieda body; sporocyst residuum and sporozoites have 2 refractile bodies. Eimeria haibeiensis n. sp. was found in 21/52 (40%) pikas. It has ellipsoidal to ovoidal oocysts, with a 2-layered smooth wall and a micropyle, 3.9 mm wide. Oocysts are 22.2 × 16.2 (20-24 × 15-18) μm; polar granule and oocyst residuum are both absent. Sporocysts are ovoidal, 11.6 × 6.6 (10-13 × 5-7) mm, with a Stieda body; sporocyst residuum and sporozoites each have 2 refractile bodies, 1 at each end. The 5 eimerian species we discovered in O. curzoniae in China all represent new host and locality records.