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Parasite Virulence and Host Immune Defense: Host Immune Response is Related to Nest Reuse in Birds

Anders Pape Moller and Johannes Erritzoe
Evolution
Vol. 50, No. 5 (Oct., 1996), pp. 2066-2072
DOI: 10.2307/2410763
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410763
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Parasite Virulence and Host Immune Defense: Host Immune Response is Related to Nest Reuse in Birds
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Abstract

The evolution of parasite virulence has been hypothesized to be related to the mode of parasite transmission; horizontally transmitted parasites can afford to damage their hosts more than vertically transmitted parasites because increased virulence does not reduce the probability of transmission to new hosts. This relationship between mode of transmission and virulence would particularly select for improved immune defense in hosts that are subject to horizontally transmitted parasites. Among avian hosts, hole nesters and colonial nesters frequently reuse nest sites because of nest-site limitation, and this results in an increased frequency of horizontal transmission. Comparison of the size of two organs involved in the immune defense between pairs of bird species being either hole or open nesters, or colonially or solitarily nesting birds, respectively, revealed that the size of the bursa of Fabricius and the spleen were consistently larger in hole nesters than in open nesters, and similarly in colonially breeding bird species than in solitarily breeding species. These results support the hypothesis that mode of parasite transmission affects the evolution of immune defence in hosts.

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