A possible link between parasite defence and residual reproduction


Patrik Karell, Bird Ecology Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, PO Box 65 (Viikinkaari 1), Fi-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.
Tel.: +358 9 191 57696; fax: +358 9 191 57694;
e-mail: patrik.karell@helsinki.fi


Life-history theory centres around trade-offs between current and future reproduction, but we have little understanding of how such trade-offs are mediated. We supplementary fed Ural owls (Strix uralensis) during the nestling period and quantified parents’ current and future life-history components as well as their physiological health by monitoring haematocrit, leucocyte profile, intra- and extracellular blood parasites. Feeding led to reduced parental effort but did not improve offspring viability, male parasite defence, or parental survival. Intracellular leucocytozoan infection was reduced in fed females which lasted to the following year's reproductive season (carry-over effect), when fed females also laid larger and earlier clutches. Leucocytozoon infection therefore may mediate the life-history trade-off between current and residual reproduction in this species.