The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is the most endangered felid in the world. Only about 160 individuals remain in 2 separate metapopulations in Southern Spain (Sierra Morena and Doñana). We obtained blood samples of 20 lynxes captured from 2004 to 2006, and determined the prevalence of infection and genetic diversity of Cytauxzoon spp. using 18S rRNA PCR and sequence analysis. Prevalence of infection was 15% (3 of 20). Cytauxzoon sp. was only detected in Sierra Morena. For phylogenetic analysis, we used the sequences reported in the present study and those characterized in different domestic and wild felids and ticks from North and South America, Asia and Europe. Three different Cytauxzoon sp. sequences were obtained. They were closely related to that obtained from a Spanish cat, but diverged in up to 1·0% with respect to the only previously reported sequence from an Iberian lynx. Conversely, the latter sequence clustered together with C. manul sequences obtained from Pallas cats (Otocolobus manul) in Mongolia. Our analysis yields a separate cluster of C. felis sequences from cats, wild felids and ticks in the United States and Brazil. These results suggest that at least 2 different Cytauxzoon spp. may be present in Iberian lynx. The apparent absence in one of the areas, together with the possibility of fatal cytauxzoonosis in lynxes makes necessary disease risks to be taken into account in management conservation strategies, such as translocations and re-introductions.
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