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

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

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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 su¡ered 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 Type: Article
Keywords: immunocompetence-handicap hypothesis; sand lizard; mass loss; tick load
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society - Biological Sciences (Series B)
Page Range: pp. 2339-2343
ISSN: 0962-8452
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2000.1289
Additional Information: Copyright 2007 Royal Society of London.
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2007 03:07
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:24
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/2421
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