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Biol Lett. 2007 Aug 22;3(4):418-21.

Nestling immune response to phytohaemagglutinin is not heritable in collared flycatchers.

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1
Bird Ecology Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, PO Box 65, University of Helsinki, Helsinki 00014, Finland. natalia.pitala@helsinki.fi

Abstract

The response to intradermally injected phytohaemagglutinin (PHA-response) is a commonly used quantification of avian immunocompetence (the ability to resist pathogens). Parasite-mediated sexual selection requires heritable immunocompetence, but evidence for heritability of PHA-response in birds largely stems from full-sib comparisons. Using an animal model approach, we quantified the narrow-sense heritability of PHA-response in 1626 collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) nestlings from 332 families, most of which were cross-fostered. Nestling PHA-response was not significantly heritable (h2=0.06+/-0.10), but was subject to non-heritable nest-of-origin effects (10% of variation). Our findings illustrate that full-sib comparisons of immunological measures may lead to an inflated estimate of heritability and also reveal a limited role of nestling PHA-response for sexual selection in this population.

PMID:
17567550
PMCID:
PMC2390664
DOI:
10.1098/rsbl.2007.0135
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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