Evol Ecol Res 13: 269-282 (2011)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Effects of immune challenge and supernormal clutch production on egg quality in the red-legged partridge

Marco Cucco, Marco Grenna, Irene Pellegrino and Giorgio Malacarne

Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Ambiente e della Vita, University of Piemonte Orientale, Alessandria, Italy

Correspondence: M. Cucco, University of Piemonte Orientale, DiSAV, via Michel 11, 15121 Alessandria, Italy.
e-mail: cucco@unipmn.it


Background: Because maintenance of the immune system is thought to be resource-limited, trade-offs between immune function, body condition, and reproductive allocation are expected.

Questions: Do females confronted with the simultaneous challenges of immune stimulation and supernormal egg production face a trade-off in terms of self-maintenance (body mass and blood parameters) and/or egg quality?

Organism: Red-legged partridge, Alectoris rufa, a precocial bird species with a huge investment in eggs.

Methods: We challenged the immune systems of females, before egg laying, with a novel antigen (Newcastle Disease virus vaccine, NDV). We also removed eggs as they were laid, so as to induce supernormal egg production.

Conclusion: Compared with the other eggs, the last-laid eggs of hens with supernormal production were smaller, contained less yolk, had a lighter shell, and contained albumen with less lysozyme. However, the immune challenge had no effect on female condition or egg quality. Thus we found no evidence of a trade-off between immune function, body condition, and reproductive allocation.

Keywords: Alectoris rufa, egg quality, laying order, maternal investment, NDV vaccine challenge, supernormal clutch.

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