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Do changes in body mass alter white blood cell profiles and immune function in Australian cane toads (Rhinella marina)?

Citation

Brown, Gregory P.; Hudson, Cameron; Shine, Richard (2022), Do changes in body mass alter white blood cell profiles and immune function in Australian cane toads (Rhinella marina)?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7m0cfxpz3

Abstract

Variation in food resources can result in dramatic fluctuations in the body condition of animals dependent on those resources. Decreases in body mass can disrupt patterns of energy allocation and impose stress, thereby altering immune function. In this study we investigated links between changes in body mass of captive cane toads (Rhinella marina), their circulating white blood cell populations, and their performance in immune assays. Captive toads that lost weight over a 3-month period had increased levels of monocytes and heterophils and reduced levels of eosinophils. Basophil and lymphocyte levels were unrelated to changes in mass. Because individuals that lost mass had higher heterophil levels but stable lymphocyte levels, the ratio of these cell types was also higher, partially consistent with a stress response. Phagocytic ability of whole blood was higher in toads that lost mass, due to increased circulating levels of phagocytic cells. Other measures of immune performance were unrelated to mass change. These results highlight the challenges faced by invasive species as they expand their range into novel environments which may impose substantial seasonal changes in food availability that were not present in the native range. Individuals facing energy restrictions may shift their immune function towards more economical and general avenues of combating pathogens.

Funding

Australian Research Council, Award: FT120100095