Malaria infection in relation to reproductive success and secondary sexual traits in collared flycatcher : In new and old breeding areas

University essay from Mittuniversitetet/Avdelningen för naturvetenskap

Author: Ye Xiong; [2014]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: Life-history theory is based on the idea that every individual face a limitation of energy, nutrients and time in its lifespan. This optimization problem is resulting in trade-offs between resource demanding tasks and traits. It has been shown that parasite resistance and specific immune response is reduced by increased reproductive effort in birds. Reproduction success and malaria infection state were tested on 434 individuals in two old and one new breeding area on Gotland. With a high accuracy and fast PCR method, three genera of protozoan haemosporidians, which are also known as avian malaria parasites, were analyzed in this study to detect host-parasite interactions. The reproduction success, indicated as lay-date and fledge, in Rums and OLD areas, Gotland, Sweden, did not show any significant relation to infection state. Instead, age (Young < 2yrs vs Old ≥ 2yrs) was found to be the most influential factor affecting reproduction success. A trade-off between infection state and patch size (secondary sexual traits) has not been shown in this study. However, there are still pieces missing in understanding how avian malaria parasites affect their host's fitness, such as the host bird immunity response to the blood parasite species and intensity levels, which need to be examined in future studies.

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