Life-history stage influences immune investment and oxidative stress in response to environmental heterogeneity in Antarctic fur seals

Immune defenses are crucial for survival but costly to develop and maintain. Increased immune investment is therefore hypothesized to trade-off with other life-history traits. Here, we examined innate and adaptive immune responses to environmental heterogeneity in wild Antarctic fur seals. In a fully crossed, repeated measures design, we sampled 100 pups and their mothers from colonies of contrasting density during seasons of contrasting food availability. Biometric and cortisol data as well as blood for the analysis of 13 immune and oxidative status markers were collected at two key life-history stages. We show that immune responses of pups are more responsive than adults to variation in food availability, but not population density, and are modulated by cortisol and condition. Immune investment is associated with different oxidative status markers in pups and mothers. Our results suggest that early life stages show greater sensitivity to extrinsic and intrinsic effectors, and that immunity may be a strong target for natural selection even in low-pathogen environments such as Antarctica.


Publication status:
Published Online
Authors: Nagel, Rebecca, Pohle, Katja, Jordán, Lilla, Tuponja, Iva, Stainfield, Claire, Toscani, Camille, Fox-Clarke, Cameron, Costantini, David, Czirják, Gábor Á., Forcada, Jaume ORCIDORCID record for Jaume Forcada, Hoffman, Joseph I. ORCIDORCID record for Joseph I. Hoffman

On this site: Cameron Fox-Clarke, Camille Toscani, Claire Stainfield, Jaume Forcada
29 June, 2024
Communications Biology / 7
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