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Data from: Alternative reproductive strategies in white-throated sparrows are associated with differences in parasite load following experimental infection

Citation

Boyd, Rachel J.; Kelly, Tosha R.; MacDougall-Shackleton, Scott A.; MacDougall-Shackleton, Elizabeth A. (2018), Data from: Alternative reproductive strategies in white-throated sparrows are associated with differences in parasite load following experimental infection, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hp26sv7

Abstract

Immune defences often trade off with other life history components. Within species, optimal allocation to immunity may differ between the sexes or between alternative life history strategies. White-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) are unusual in having two discrete plumage morphs, white-striped and tan-striped. Within each sex, white-striped individuals are more aggressive and provide less parental care than tan-striped individuals. We extended immunocompetence handicap models, which predict sex differences in immunity and parasitism, to hypothesize that infection susceptibility should be greater in white-striped than tan-striped birds. We inoculated birds of both morphs with malarial parasites. Contrary to our prediction, among birds that became infected, parasite loads were higher in tan-striped than white-striped individuals and did not differ between the sexes. Circulating androgen levels did not differ between morphs but were higher in males than females. Our findings are not consistent with androgen-mediated immunosuppression. Instead, morph differences in immunity could reflect social interactions or life-history-related differences in risk of injury, and/or genetic factors. Although plumage and behavioural morphs of white-throated sparrow may differ in disease resistance, these differences do not parallel sex differences that have been reported in animals, and do not appear to be mediated by differences in androgen levels.

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