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Environ Pollut. 2007 Jan;145(1):348-54. Epub 2006 May 5.

Diet-mediated effects of heavy metal pollution on growth and immune response in the geometrid moth Epirrita autumnata.

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Department of Biology, University of Turku, FI-20014 Turku, Finland.


The potential capacity of larval growth and immune response traits of the autumnal moth to adapt to heavy metal polluted environment was tested experimentally. Both the relative growth rate (RGR) and pupal weight were significantly higher in control trees than on polluted trees, indicating that metal pollution prevented the insect from achieving maximal growth on birch leaves. Larval growth rates of different broods differed significantly between metal contaminated and control birches. However, pupal weight of broods, which is considered more important for fitness than growth rate, in response to pollution did not differ. Immune response was significantly higher in moths exposed to pollution than in moths that were exposed to control environment suggesting that pollution enhances the immune defense of defoliators. Encapsulation rate tended to differ between broods indicating that the immune function has potential to respond to selection.

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