Interrelaciones entre el estrés, inmunidad y parasitismo en el herrerillo común (Parus caeruleus).
The general aim of this Thesis is to deepen our understanding of the costs and tradeoffs that parasites impose on their hosts in the wild. The main model system is a blue tit (Parus caeruleus) population. Primarily with experimental approaches, I study the role played by immune system and stress responses in birds facing parasite infections. I also study their implications in the modulation of reproductive investment, reproductive costs and life histories.
As a first step, I establish and validate two methodological procedures, one for the collection and analysis of blood samples for the quantification of HSP levels, and other for the quantification of immunoglobulin levels, both to be applied in wild bird populations.
I report the first experimental evidence relating blood parasite infection to the physiological stress response in a wild avian population. The results show the existence of fitness costs of parasitism or physiological defences against it. An experimental reduction of blood parasitism and the associated reduction in immunoglobulin levels allowed females to allocate more resources towards parental effort, resulting in benefits for the offspring. In addition, a brood size manipulation experiment allowed us to detect a reduction in HSP60 level in females attending reduced broods, and a reduction in immunoglobulin levels in females attending enlarged broods. Results suggest that physiological stress may limit parental effort during reproduction in blue tits.
Blue tits reusing cavities with old nests from the previous season pay costs caused for the presence of ectoparasites. These costs arose as a lower reproductive success and a lower female body weight after reproduction. I detected an additional cost expressed as higher blood parasite infection in females as ectoparasitim increases. Results show that the costs of nest reuse would be lower in areas and/or seasons with low incidence of ectoparasitism.
Finally, I explored the causes of intraspecific variability in nest size, a character involved in reproduction. Results show that certain measures of female health are related to nest-building effort in some years, probably depending on environmental conditions. Thus, nest size in this species may be a sexually selected trait.
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Advisor:Merino Rodríguez, Santiago
School:Universitat de València
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:11/18/2005