Additive effects of ectoparasites over reproductive attempts in the long-lived alpine swift

Alpine Swift (Apus melba) Science Article 7


Parasitism is a non-negligible cost of reproduction in wild organisms, and hosts are selected to partition resources optimally between current and future reproduction. While parents can compensate for the cost of parasitism by increasing their current reproductive investment, such change in resource allocation is expected to carry-over costs on future reproduction. Life history theory predicts that because long-lived organisms have a high residual reproductive value, they should be more reluctant to increase parental effort in response to parasites. Also, when rearing successive infested broods, the cost of parasitism can cumulate over the years and hence be exacerbated by past infestations. We tested these two predictions in the alpine swift Apus melba, a long-lived colonial bird that is infested intensely by the nest-based blood sucking louse-fly Crataerina melbae. For this purpose, we manipulated ectoparasite load over 3 consecutive years and measured reproductive parameters in successive breeding attempts of adults assigned randomly to

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