Evol Ecol Res 4: 919-929 (2002) Full PDF if your library subscribes.
Dead and alive parasites: sexual ornaments signal resistance in the male fish, Rutilus rutilus
Jouni Taskinen* and Raine Kortet
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Box 35 (YAC.341), FIN-40351 Jyväskylä, Finland
Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
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.
Keywords: co-evolution, expression of secondary sexual characters, Hamilton and Zuk, sexual selection.
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