Tag Archives: shrew

Getting Better May Get You Eaten

Fighting off an infection can use up valuable energy, and also change behaviour, which can lead to enhanced risk of predation

Image Credit: Gilles San Martin, CC BY-SA 2.0, Image Cropped

Immune response increases predation risk (2012) Otti et al., Evolution 66

The Crux

Parasites and diseases cause a lot of problems for their hosts, stealing resources like blood, food and energy. But fighting off parasites is also a costly process, so hosts have to walk the thin line between using just enough resources to fight off the parasite and using too many, leaving them with nothing. The amount a host invests in their immune response will depend on the specific environment that they live in. For example, in an environment where resources are plentiful, a host may decide that it is worth shaking off a parasite or disease. In areas where resources aren’t, they may choose to save energy.

Introducing predation to a situation further complicates things. Having a lot of predators around naturally means energy conservation becomes even more important. This study examines the risk of predation for an organism that is fighting off an infection.

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