Abstracts (first author)
Trade-offs between personal immunity and reproduction in the burying beetle (N. vespilloides)
Immunity and reproduction are both costly, but how do organisms balance these costs when called upon to carry out both at the same time? We tested this with the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides. This species exhibits costly bi-parental care and its immune system can be readily quantified. The trade-off between self-maintenance and reproductive investment is likely to be most visible in those species that invest extensively in parental care, making N. vespilloides a valuable study species. Immune function was measured during the breeding bout in both immune-challenged and control individuals. Breeding success in the current bout and across each individual’s lifetime was then measured to assess the potential costs associated both with maintaining the immune system in a state of readiness and deploying an immune response. Deciphering the mechanistic basis of trade-offs is important. Hormones are increasingly being invoked as a potential mechanism by which life-history trade-offs are controlled. I will discuss the potential of Juvenile Hormone as the candidate for this role in N. vespilloides.