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Male rock lizards may compensate reproductive costs of an immune challenge affecting sexual signals

AuthorsRodríguez-Ruiz, Gonzalo; Ortega, Jesús; Cuervo, José Javier ; López Martínez, Pilar ; Salvador Milla, Alfredo ; Martín Rueda, José
DNA microsatellites
Femoral gland secretions
Immune challenge
Reproductive success
Issue DateJul-2020
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationBehavioral Ecology 31(4): 1017-1030 (2020)
AbstractSexual signals can be evolutionarily stable if they are condition dependent or costly to the signaler. One of these costs may be the trade-off between maintaining the immune system and the elaboration of ornaments. Experimental immune challenges in captivity show a reduction in the expression of sexual signals, but it is not clear whether these detrimental effects are important in nature and, more importantly, whether they have reproductive consequences. We designed a field experiment to challenge the immune system of wild male Carpetan rock lizards, Iberolacerta cyreni, with a bacterial antigen (lipopolysaccharide). The immune challenge decreased relative reflectance of ultraviolet structural and melanin-dependent sexual coloration in the throat and the lateral ocelli, whereas the carotenoid-dependent dorsal green coloration was not affected. Immune activation also decreased proportions of ergosterol and cholesta-5,7-dien-3-ol in femoral secretions. These results support a trade-off between the immune system and both visual and chemical sexual ornaments. Moreover, the reproductive success of males, estimated with DNA microsatellites, depended on the expression of some color and chemical traits. However, the immune challenge did not cause overall differences in reproductive success, although it increased with body size/age in control but not in challenged males. This suggests the use of alternative reproductive strategies (e.g., forced matings) in challenged males, particularly in smaller ones. These males might consider that their survival probabilities are low and increase reproductive effort as a form of terminal investment in spite of their ¿low-quality¿ sexual signals and potential survival costs.
Publisher version (URL)10.1093/beheco/araa047
Identifiersdoi: 10.1093/beheco/araa047
issn: 1045-2249
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
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