Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 10, pp 1573–1580

Fitness costs of an immune response in the house martin (Delichon urbica)

  • Alfonso Marzal
  • Maribel Reviriego
  • Florentino de Lope
  • Anders Pape Møller
Original Paper

Abstract

Immune responses constitute a major way for hosts to defend themselves against parasites. Because hosts do not habitually produce strong responses all the time, immune responses might be costly to produce or maintain. We tested experimentally if the production of a response to a challenge with a novel antigen resulted in a cost in terms of fitness using the highly colonial house martin Delichon urbica as a model system. We injected adult breeding birds during laying of the first clutch with either Newcastle disease virus (NDV) or a control injection, and the clutch was subsequently removed to induce relaying. NDV stimulates the non-specific immune system, causing production of antibodies during a period of more than 2 weeks. Accordingly, we found an increase in leukocyte counts in experimental birds compared to controls. Experimental treatment reduced the frequency of re-laying, caused a delay in timing of relaying and a reduction in brood size. Quality of nestlings in terms of body size, body mass and T-cell-mediated immune response did not differ significantly between treatments. Overall, seasonal reproductive success differed significantly between treatments, showing that the production of an immune response by adult birds is costly in terms of future fecundity.

Keywords

Clutch size Delichon urbica House martin Laying date Newcastle disease virus 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfonso Marzal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maribel Reviriego
    • 1
  • Florentino de Lope
    • 1
  • Anders Pape Møller
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología AnimalUniversidad de ExtremaduraBadajozSpain
  2. 2.Department of Animal Ecology, Ecology BuildingLund UniversityLundSweden
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive, CNRS UMR 7103Université Pierre et Marie CurieParis Cedex 05France

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