HomePublications

A further cost for the sicker sex? Evidence for male-biased parasite-induced vulnerability to predation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access permissions

Open

Documents

DOI

Authors

Organisational units

Abstract

Males are typically the sicker sex. Data from multiple taxa indicate that they are more likely to be infected with parasites, and are less ‘tolerant’, or less able to mitigate the fitness costs of a given infection, than females. One cost of infection for many animals is an increased probability of being captured by a predator. A clear, hitherto untested, prediction is therefore that this parasite-induced vulnerability to predation is more pronounced among males than females. We tested this prediction in the sexually size dimorphic guppy, Poecilia reticulata, in which females are typically larger than males. We either sham or experimentally infected guppies with Gyrodactylus turnbulli, elicited their escape response using an established protocol and measured the distance they covered during 60 ms. To discriminate between the effects of body size and those of other inherent sex differences, we size-matched fish across treatment groups. Infection with G. turnbulli reduced the distance covered during the escape response of small adults by 20.1%, whereas that of large fish was unaffected. This result implies that parasite-induced vulnerability to predation is male-biased in the wild: although there was no difference in escape response between our experimentally size-matched groups of males and females, males are significantly smaller across natural guppy populations. These results are consistent with Bateman’s principle for immunity: natural selection for larger body sizes and longevity in females seems to have resulted in the evolution of increased infection tolerance. We discuss the potential implications of male-biased parasite-induced vulnerability for the evolutionary ecology of this host-parasite interaction in natural communities.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2506–2515
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume6
Issue number8
Early online date14 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
Peer-reviewedYes

Keywords

    Research areas

  • parasite-induced vulnerability to predation, sex-biased parasitism, Poecilia reticulata, Gyrodactylus, Bateman's principle for immunity, infection tolerance

Bibliographic note

© 2016 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

View graph of relations

ID: 70467202