Sarcocystis is a large genus of protozoan parasites with complex heteroxenous life cycles. For many species, either the intermediate or the definitive host is still unknown. In this study, 116 Accipiter hawks (Eurasian sparrowhawks and northern goshawks) were investigated for the presence of Sarcocystis spp. in their intestinal tract or their faeces. To gain a wide distribution, samples were collected throughout Germany within 2 years. It was possible to detect Sarcocystis-like oocysts in 65 samples. Sequencing of the ITS region or species-specific PCR identified 33 samples as Sarcocystis turdusi/Sarcocystis sp. ex A. nisus (18), Sarcocystis calchasi (6), Sarcocystis columbae (3), Sarcocystis cornixi (3) and Sarcocystis sp. ex Phalacrocorax carbo (3). Besides the known infestation with S. columbae, S. sp. ex A. nisus and S. calchasi the Accipiter hawks were thereby confirmed as definitive host of S. turdusi, S. cornixi and S. sp. ex Phalacrocorax carbo for the first time.
Keywords: Accipiter hawks; Amplification of ITS region; Avian Sarcocystis species; Definitive host.