Avian malaria parasites ( Plasmodium
) have a worldwide distribution except for Antarctica. They are transmitted exclusively by mosquito vectors (Diptera: Culicidae) and are of particular interest to health care research due to their phylogenetic relationship with human plasmodia and their ability to cause avian malaria, which is frequently lethal in non-adapted avian hosts. However, different features of avian Plasmodium
spp, including their taxonomy and aspects of their life-history traits, need to be examined in more detail. Over the last 10 years, ecologists, evolutionary biologists and wildlife researchers have recognized the importance of studying avian malaria parasites and other related haemosporidians, which are the largest group of the order Haemosporida by number of species. These studies have included understanding the ecological, behavioral and evolutionary aspects that arise in this wildlife host-parasite system. Molecular tools have provided new and exiting opportunities for such research. This review discusses several emerging topics related to the current research of avian Plasmodium
spp and some related avian haemosporidians. We also summarize some important discoveries in this field and emphasize the value of using both polymerase chain reaction-based and microscopy-based methods in parallel for wildlife studies. We will focus on the genus Plasmodium
, with an emphasis on the distribution and pathogenicity of these parasites in wild birds in Brazil.