Does body growth impair immune function in a large herbivore?

TitleDoes body growth impair immune function in a large herbivore?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsCheynel, L, Douhard, F, Gilot-Fromont, E, Rey, B, Débias, F, Pardonnet, S, Carbillet, J, Verheyden, H, Hewison, AJM, Pellerin, M, Gaillard, J-M, Lemaître, J-F
Date Published2019 Jan

According to the principle of allocation, trade-offs are inevitable when resources allocated to one biological function are no longer available for other functions. Growth, and to a lesser extent, immunity are energetically costly functions that may compete with allocation to reproductive success and survival. However, whether high allocation to growth impairs immune system development during the growing period or immune system performance during adulthood is currently unknown in wild mammals. Using three roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) populations experiencing contrasting environmental conditions, we tested for potential costs of growth on immune phenotype over both the short-term (during growth), and the long-term (during adulthood) over the course of an individuals' life. We investigated potential costs on a set of 12 immune traits that reflect both innate and adaptive responses, and compared them between sexes and populations. Although fast growth tended to be associated with low levels of some humoral traits (globulins) during the growing period and some cellular immune traits (i.e. eosinophil and neutrophil counts) during adulthood, evidence for a trade-off between growth and other immune components was limited. Unexpectedly, no detectable growth costs on immunity were found in females from the population experiencing the least favourable environment. We discuss our findings in the light of the complex interplay between resource allocation strategies among reproduction, maintenance and immunity, in relation to local environmental conditions experienced by roe deer.

Alternate JournalOecologia
PubMed ID30470888
Grant ListANR-15-CE32-0002-01 / / Agence Nationale de la Recherche /
ANR-11-LABX-0048 / / Agence Nationale de la Recherche /
ANR-11-IDEX-0007 / / Agence Nationale de la Recherche /
2011/18/6171 / / Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage ONCFS (FR) /
2015/19/6171 / / Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage ONCFS (FR) /