, Volume 162, Issue 3, pp 541–547 | Cite as

Activation of the immune system promotes insect dispersal in the wild

  • Jukka Suhonen
  • Johanna Honkavaara
  • Markus J. Rantala
Physiological ecology - Original Paper


Dispersal has important ecological and evolutionary consequences but is a poorly understood behaviour. We experimentally tested whether activation of the immune system affects dispersal in male damselflies, Calopteryx virgo, from three natural populations. We show that males that contained an experimentally inserted artificial pathogen, a nylon monofilament implant, had higher dispersal rates and flew further than control males, but not further than sham manipulated males. Our data suggest that dispersal may reduce the risk of further infections if immune system activation indicates high parasite infection risk in the present habitat. We, thus, suggest that parasites may play an important role in the evolution of host dispersal.


Calopteryx virgo Damselfly Dispersal Host–parasite interaction Odonata 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jukka Suhonen
    • 1
  • Johanna Honkavaara
    • 1
  • Markus J. Rantala
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Ecology, Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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