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Testosterone, ticks and travels: a test of the immunocompetence-handicap hypothesis in free-ranging male sand lizards

Citation

Olsson, M and Wapstra, E and Madsen, T and Silverin, B, Testosterone, ticks and travels: a test of the immunocompetence-handicap hypothesis in free-ranging male sand lizards, Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Series B - Biological Sciences, 267, (1459 ) pp. 2339-2343. ISSN 0962-8452 (2000) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2000.1289

Abstract

The immunocompetence-handicap hypothesis suggests that androgen-dependent male characters constitute honest signals of mate and/or rival quality because of the imposed costs through immune suppression associated with elevated testosterone levels. We demonstrate in a field experiment that male sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) exposed to elevated testosterone suffered from increased mass loss and tick load compared to control males. Although the first of these two results could be due to an elevated basal metabolic rate from increased plasma testosterone levels, the increased parasite load was statistically independent of the loss in body condition and is likely to be due to compromised immune function. Testosterone-treated males showed greater mobility than control males, and greater mobility resulted in higher mating success. Our experiment thus lends support to the immunocompetence-handicap hypothesis, suggesting that male testosterone levels have been moderated by balancing selection for reproductive success and sustained immune function.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Objective Field:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of environments not elsewhere classified
Author:Wapstra, E (Associate Professor Erik Wapstra)
ID Code:20391
Year Published:2000
Web of Science® Times Cited:90
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2000-08-01
Last Modified:2011-11-25
Downloads:0

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