Variation in innate immunity in relation to ectoparasite load, age and season: a field experiment in great tits (Parus major)

  • De Coster G
  • De Neve L
  • Martin-Galvez D
 et al. 
  • 65

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 32

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

It remains largely unknown which factors affect the innate immune responses of free-living birds. Nevertheless, the degree of innate immunity may play a crucial role in an individual's survival as it procures the first defence against pathogens. We manipulated the ectoparasite load of great tit (Parus major) nests by infesting them with hen fleas (Ceratophyllus gallinae) before egg laying. We subsequently quantified natural antibody (NAb) concentration and complement activation in nestlings and adult females during breeding and post-breeding periods. NAb concentrations increased in nestlings and adult females breeding in flea-infested nest boxes during the nestling provisioning period, but not in breeding females during incubation. In contrast, parasite abundance did not affect levels of complement activity in females. NAb levels of nestlings were already fully developed at the end of the nestling stage, but complement activation was only observed post-fledging. Concentrations of NAbs and complement activation of adult females were significantly lower during the breeding season compared with post-breeding levels, but did not differ between incubation and chick rearing. Further experimental studies in species that vary in life-history strategies will allow us to unravel the mechanisms underlying the observed variation in innate immune defences.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Authors

  • G. De Coster

  • L. De Neve

  • D. Martin-Galvez

  • L. Therry

  • L. Lens

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free