Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Animal Science
Journal or Book Title
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
The immunocompetence “pace-of-life” hypothesis proposes that fast-living organisms should invest more in innate immune defenses and less in adaptive defenses compared to slow-living ones. We found some support for this hypothesis in two lifehistory ecotypes of the snake Thamnophis elegans; fast-living individuals show higher levels of innate immunity compared to slow-living ones. Here, we optimized a lymphocyte proliferation assay to assess the complementary prediction that slowliving snakes should in turn show stronger adaptive defenses. We also assessed the “environmental” hypothesis that predicts that slow-living snakes should show lower levels of immune defenses (both innate and adaptive) given the harsher environment they live in. Proliferation of B- and T-lymphocytes of free-living individuals was on average higher in fast-living than slow-living snakes, opposing the pace-of-life hypothesis and supporting the environmental hypothesis. Bactericidal capacity of plasma, an index of innate immunity, did not differ between fast-living and slow-living snakes in this study, contrasting the previously documented pattern and highlighting the importance of annual environmental conditions as determinants of immune profiles of free-living animals. Our results do not negate a link between life history and immunity, as indicated by ecotype-specific relationships between lymphocyte proliferation and body condition, but suggest more subtle nuances than those currently proposed.
The University of Chicago
Palacios, Maria G.; Bronikowski, Anne M.; and Cunnick, Joan E., "Complex Interplay of Body Condition, Life History, and Prevailing Environment Shapes Immune Defenses of Garter Snakes in the Wild" (2013). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 190.