Food availability and immune capacity in serin (Serinus serinus) nestlings
- Cite this article as:
- Hoi-Leitner, M., Romero-Pujante, M., Hoi, H. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2001) 49: 333. doi:10.1007/s002650000310
Parental feeding effort is an important determinant of chick development in birds. Quality and amount of food provided to each nestling, however, might affect the development of the immune system. Food availability around the nest site may account for part of the difference in body condition and immune capacity of nestlings. We tested this idea in the socially monogamous serin (Serinus serinus), investigating growth and immune capacity of nestlings in relation to food availability around the nest site. We used a set of immunological and serological assays, including antibody responses to sheep red blood cells (SRBCs), the T lymphocyte cell-mediated immune response (PHA), granulocyte:lymphocyte ratio (G:L), haematocrit and sedimentation rate. The results suggest that serins raised under poor environmental conditions were less immunocompetent. The immune response to PHA and SRBCs significantly increased with food availability. Haematocrit values were positively, sedimentation rate and the G:L ratio negatively correlated with food availability. Similar results were obtained when examining chick development in relation to the immunological and serological variables. However, there was a negative relationship between parental feeding rates and food availability, as well as between parental feeding rates and chick development. We conclude that body condition and immune capacity of nestlings are strongly correlated with the availability of food around the nest site.