Alternative male reproductive tactics and the immunocompetence handicap in the Azorean rock-pool blenny, Parablennius parvicornis

Proceedings. Biological Sciences
A F H RosR F Oliveira


In the Azorean rock-pool blenny (Parablennius parvicornis) reproductively active males display alternative morphotypes, which differ in the expression of secondary sexual characters (SSC). Males expressing SSC, the M+ morphotype, have high androgen levels and compete for crevices that will be visited by females to spawn. M+ males holding nests court females and care for the eggs. Males with low expression of SSC, the M- morphotype, have low levels of androgens and reproduce by stealing fertilizations from the M+ males. Based on the hypothesis that androgens are immunosuppressive, we expected these morphotypes to differ in immunocompetence. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a field study in which we collected repeated blood samples to monitor leukocyte populations (blood smears), and to measure the primary antibody response of males that were experimentally challenged with a foreign non-pathogenic antigen (sheep red blood cells). Circulating levels of 11-ketotestosterone and testosterone were higher in M+ males than in M- males. Neither granulocyte nor thrombocyte counts did covariate with androgens or male tactic. In contrast, lymphocyte counts and humoral antibody response were negatively correlated with body size, and as ...Continue Reading


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