Costly carotenoids: a trade-off between predation and infection risk?
Article first published online: 24 MAR 2005
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 18, Issue 4, pages 992–999, July 2005
How to Cite
VAN DER VEEN, I. T. (2005), Costly carotenoids: a trade-off between predation and infection risk?. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 18: 992–999. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2005.00903.x
- Issue published online: 11 MAY 2005
- Article first published online: 24 MAR 2005
- Received 16 November 2004; revised 20 January 2005; accepted 22 January 2005
- Macrocyclops albidus;
- multiple enemies;
- parasite infection;
- Schistocephalus solidus
Carotenoid reserves in copepods seem costly in terms of predation risk because they make individuals conspicuous. However, carotenoids also seem to play an important role in immune defence as free radical scavengers. To test whether predation risk influences carotenoid levels and whether changes in carotenoid levels are related to changes in immune defence, I examined individual changes in large carotenoid and other lipid droplets upon exposure to predation risk and subsequent exposure to parasites in the copepod Macrocyclops albidus. Copepods reduced carotenoid reserves upon exposure to predators, through which they potentially avoided the costs of being conspicuous under predation risk. Thus, the size of carotenoid reserves is a plastic trait. Such a decrease in carotenoid reserves may also have a negative impact on the copepods’ immune system as individuals that decreased their reserves suffered higher parasite prevalence upon exposure to the cestode Schistocephalus solidus. These results suggest that carotenoid reserves may be individually optimized to trade-off each individual's unique costs (predation risk) and benefits (immune defence) of having these reserves.