Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 488803
Title Seasonal patterns in immune indices reflect microbial loads on birds but not microbes in the wider environment
Author(s) Horrocks, N.P.C.; Matson, K.D.; Shobrak, M.; Tinbergen, J.M.; Tieleman, B.I.
Source Ecosphere 3 (2012)2. - ISSN 2150-8925 - 14 p.
Department(s) Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2012
Keyword(s) feather-degrading bacteria - arabian desert - saudi-arabia - life-history - trade-offs - ecological immunology - evolutionary ecology - atmospheric bacteria - airborne particles - aridity gradient
Abstract Documenting patterns in immune function is a first step to understanding immune variation, but to comprehend causes and consequences, antigen and parasite exposure that may drive such variation must be determined. We measured host-independent microbial exposure in five species of larks (Alaudidae) in the Arabian Desert by sampling ambient air for culturable microbes during late spring and winter, two periods with contrasting environmental conditions. We developed a novel technique to assay densities of microbes shed from birds, and we quantified four indices of constitutive innate immunity. Birds shed significantly more microbes during spring than winter, and all immune indices except one were also significantly higher during spring. In contrast, concentrations of airborne environmental microbes were higher in winter. Among all birds in both seasons, lysis titers were positively correlated with total densities of microbes shed from birds, suggesting that immune defenses are directed towards the microbes that birds carry, rather than microbes in the wider environment. Our findings highlight the relevance of quantifying non-specific immune challenges in ecological immunology studies, and reinforce the importance of both host-dependent and host-independent measures of antigenic pressure for understanding immune variation. Read More:
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