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Humoral immunocompetence correlates with date of egg-laying and reflects work load in female tree swallows

  • Dennis Hasselquist
  • M F Wasson
  • D W Winkler
Publishing year: 2001
Language: English
Pages: 93-97
Publication/Series: Behavioral Ecology
Volume: 12
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Oxford University Press

Abstract english

Because quality differences between individuals affect fitness, much research has attempted, with limited success, to relate physiological condition (e.g., body reserves), to differences in life history between individuals. Recently, it has been suggested that immunocompetence may reflect condition, and it thus may mediate variation in individual quality and reproductive performance and, ultimately, fitness. We measured humoral immunocompetence (HIC) by immunizing female tree swallows with a harmless antigen and measured the specific antibody responses in a novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay developed for passerine birds. HIC was strongly correlated with egg-laying date, an important determinant of reproductive success in female tree swallows. We also investigated the effect of increased workload on HIC by manipulating female flight costs by clipping flight feathers. Clipped females had lower HIC than nonclipped females. These data suggest that HIC is a measure that may reflect phenotypic quality and also appears to be sensitive to increased workload in female tree swallows.


  • Biological Sciences


  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 1045-2249
Dennis Hasselquist
E-mail: dennis [dot] hasselquist [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 37 08



Research group


Doctoral students and postdocs

Research fellows


Jacob Roved

PhD Students, main supervisor

PhD Students, assistant supervisor


Interview about my research in the Swedish podcast "Forskarn & jag"