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Inbreeding effects on immune response in free-living song sparrows (Melospiza melodia)

  • J M Reid
  • P Arcese
  • L F Keller
  • K H Elliot
  • L Sampson
  • Dennis Hasselquist
Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 697-706
Publication/Series: Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Volume: 274
Issue: 1610
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

The consequences of inbreeding for host immunity to parasitic infection have broad implications for the evolutionary and dynamical impacts of parasites on populations where inbreeding occurs. To rigorously assess the magnitude and the prevalence of inbreeding effects on immunity, multiple components of host immune response should be related to inbreeding coefficient (f) in free-living individuals. We used a pedigreed, free-living population of song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) to test whether individual responses to widely used experimental immune challenges varied consistently with f. The patagial swelling response to phytohaemagglutinin declined markedly with f in both females and males in both 2002 and 2003, although overall inbreeding depression was greater in males. The primary antibody response to tetanus toxoid declined with f in females but not in males in both 2004 and 2005. Primary antibody responses to diphtheria toxoid were low but tended to decline with f in 2004. Overall inbreeding depression did not solely reflect particularly strong immune responses in outbred offspring of immigrant-native pairings or weak responses in highly inbred individuals. These data indicate substantial and apparently sex-specific inbreeding effects on immune response, implying that inbred hosts may be relatively susceptible to parasitic infection to differing degrees in males and females.


  • Biological Sciences


  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 1471-2954
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"