Relative importance of factors affecting nestling immune response differs between junior and senior nestlings within broods of hoopoes Upupa epops

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2006
Authors:M. Martin-Vivaldi, Ruiz-Rodriguez, M., Mendez, M., Soler, J. J.
Journal:Journal of Avian Biology
Date Published:September
ISBN Number:0908-8857
Accession Number:ZOOREC:ZOOR14303014009
Keywords:Carnidae, Carnus, Carnus hemapterus, Spain

Animals should invest in the immune system to protect themselves from parasites, but the cost of immune responses may limit investment depending on resource availability. In birds' broods, senior and junior chicks in size hierarchies face different rearing conditions, and thus we predicted that factors affecting immune response should differ between them. In asynchronously hatched hoopoe Upupa epops broods, we found that the immune response of senior nestlings was not related to their body condition, but positively related to risk of parasitism (which was indirectly estimated by laying date). This suggests that their immunocompetence is not limited by access to resources, and they can differentially invest in immune response with increasing risk of parasitism. On the other hand, immune response of junior nestlings was related to their body condition, but secondarily also to risk of parasitism. Our results agree with previous studies that have found significant influence of nutritional status and risk of parasitism on nestlings immune defence, but show that the effects of these environmental factors on nestling immunocompetence differ between nestlings occupying high and low rank positions in size hierarchies. The possible influence of maternal effects on the results found is also discussed.

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