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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Malaria-Infected Female Collared Flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) Do Not Pay the Cost of Late Breeding

Kulma, Katarzyna; Low, Matthew; Bensch, Staffan; Qvarnström, Anna

Abstract

Life-history theory predicts that the trade-off between parasite defense and other costly traits such as reproduction may be most evident when resources are scarce. The strength of selection that parasites inflict on their host may therefore vary across environmental conditions. Collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) breeding on the Swedish island Oland experience a seasonal decline in their preferred food resource, which opens the possibility to test the strength of life-history trade-offs across environmental conditions. We used nested-PCR and quantitative-PCR protocols to investigate the association of Haemosporidia infection with reproductive performance of collared flycatcher females in relation to a seasonal change in the external environment. We show that despite no difference in mean onset of breeding, infected females produced relatively more of their fledglings late in the season. This pattern was also upheld when considering only the most common malaria lineage (hPHSIB1), however there was no apparent link between the reproductive output and the intensity of infection. Infected females produced heavier-than-average fledglings with higher-than-expected recruitment success late in the season. This reversal of the typical seasonal trend in reproductive output compensated them for lower fledging and recruitment rates compared to uninfected birds earlier in the season. Thus, despite different seasonal patterns of reproductive performance the overall number of recruits was the same for infected versus uninfected birds. A possible explanation for our results is that infected females breed in a different microhabitat where food availability is higher late in the season but also is the risk of infection. Thus, our results suggest that another trade-off than the one we aimed to test is more important for explaining variation in reproductive performance in this natural population: female flycatchers appear to face a trade-off between the risk of infection and reproductive success late in the season.

Published in

PLoS ONE
2014, volume: 9, number: 1, article number: e85822
Publisher: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE

Authors' information

Kulma, Katarzyna
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Bensch, Staffan
Qvarnström, Anna

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 Good health and wellbeing

UKÄ Subject classification

Immunology
Genetics
Evolutionary Biology
Ecology
Zoology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0085822

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/63454