Benefits of Extra Begging Fail to Compensate for Immunological Costs in Southern Shrike (Lanius meridionalis) Nestlings
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Public Library of Science (PLOS)
Animal signaling and communicationBird physiologyDietEvolutionary immunologyEvolutionary theoryFoodImmune physiologyImmune response
Moreno-Rueda, G.; Redondo, T. Benefits of Extra Begging Fail to Compensate for Immunological Costs in Southern Shrike (Lanius meridionalis) Nestlings. Plos One, 7(9): e44647 (2012). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/31082]
PatrocinadorG.M.-R. was supported by the Spanish Government (Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, “Juan de la Cierva” program), and T.R. was supported by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC; Proyectos Intramurales Especiales, ref. 201030E079). The study was economically supported by the Spanish government (Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación; project CGL2011-29694).
Theoretical models aimed at explaining the evolution of honest, informative begging signals employed by nestling birds to solicit food from their parents, require that dishonest signalers incur a net viability cost in order to prevent runaway escalation of signal intensity over evolutionary time. Previous attempts to determine such a cost empirically have identified two candidate physiological costs associated with exaggerated begging: a growth and an immunological cost. However, they failed to take into account the fact that those costs are potentially offset by the fact that nestlings that invest more in begging are also likely to obtain more food. In this study, we test experimentally whether a 25% increase in ingested food compensates for growth and immunological costs of extra begging in southern shrike (Lanius meridionalis) nestlings. Three nestmates matched by size were given three treatments: low begging, high begging-same food intake, and high begging-extra food intake. We found that, while a higher food intake did effectively compensate for the growth cost, it failed to compensate for the immunological cost, measured as T-cell mediated immune response against an innocuous mitogen. Thus, we show for the first time that escalated begging has an associated physiological net cost likely to affect nestling survival negatively.