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Dead and alive parasites: sexual ornaments signal resistance in the male fish, Rutilus rutilus

Dead and alive parasites: sexual ornaments signal resistance in the male fish, Rutilus rutilus

Evolutionary Ecology Research 4(6): 919-929

ISSN/ISBN: 1522-0613

The Hamilton and Zuk hypothesis proposed that male sexual ornaments could signal resistance against local co-evolving parasites. We examined the ornamentation - the breeding tubercles - of roach from five populations in relation to (a) parasite load (intensity/prevalence; five species), (b) host resistance (proportion of dead parasites; two species), (c) immune function (spleen size) and (d) somatic condition. The gill endo-parasite Rhipidocotyle campanula was locally the most prevalent and abundant among the five parasite species studied. Ornamentation correlated positively with the proportion of dead R. campanula, but not with the other parameters or the other parasite species. This suggests that ornamentation may signal a male's ability to eliminate local parasites as expected by the hypothesis. Furthermore, we propose that the proportion of dead parasites in a host may provide a useful measure of its resistance, since it might be a species-specific, direct, long-term measure of host immunological response.

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Accession: 003701095

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