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Does the strength of an immune response reflect its energetic cost?

Publiceringsår: 2007
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 488-494
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Journal of Avian Biology1994-01-01+01:00
Volym: 38
Nummer: 4
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd


The energetic cost of immune responses has been proposed to be an important basis for trade-offs between life-history traits, such as between survival and reproduction. A critical assumption of this hypothesis is that the magnitude of the energetic cost increases with the strength of an immune response, so that energy can be saved by partly suppressing a response. Here, we test this assumption experimentally. The immune system of great tits Parus major was experimentally activated by injecting different doses of phytohemagglutinin (PHA) in the wing web. We found the resting metabolic rate of immune challenged birds to increase by 5%. However, although great tits injected with a high dose had a stronger immune response, this was not paralleled by a higher metabolic rate. Thus, we found the energetic cost of the immune response to be relatively low and not dose-dependent. This suggests to us that the energetic cost of immune responses cannot form the basis for trade-offs between life-history traits.


  • Biological Sciences


  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 0908-8857

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