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Data from: Trade-offs between personal immunity and reproduction in the burying beetle, N. vespilloides


Reavey, Catherine E.; Warnock, Neil D.; Vogel, Heiko; Cotter, Sheena C. (2014), Data from: Trade-offs between personal immunity and reproduction in the burying beetle, N. vespilloides, Dryad, Dataset,


We know that parental investment and immune investment are costly processes, but it is unclear which trait will be prioritized when both may be required. Here, we address this question using the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides, carrion breeders that exhibit biparental care of young. Our results show that immunosuppression occurs during provision of parental care. We measured phenoloxidase (PO) on Days 1–8 of the breeding bout and results show a clear decrease in PO immediately from presentation of the breeding resource onward. Having established baseline immune investment during breeding we then manipulated immune investment at different times by applying a wounding challenge. Beetles were wounded prior to and during the parental care period and reproductive investment quantified. Different effects on reproductive output occur depending on the timing of wounding. Challenging the immune system with wounding prior to breeding does not affect reproductive output and subsequent lifetime reproductive success (LRS). LRS is also unaffected by applying an immune elicitor prior to breeding, though different arms of the immune system are up/downregulated, perhaps indicating a trade-off between cellular and humoral immunity. In contrast, wounding during breeding reduces reproductive output and to the greatest extent if the challenge is applied early in the breeding bout. Despite being immunosuppressed, breeding beetles can still respond to wounding by increasing PO, albeit not to prebreeding levels. This upregulation of PO during breeding may affect parental investment, resulting in a reduction in reproductive output. The potential role of juvenile hormone in controlling this trade-off is discussed.

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