Host Stress Hormones Alter Vector Preference, Feeding Success and Subsequent Productivity

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the Royal Society B.






Stress hormones might represent a key link between individual-level infection outcome, population-level parasite transmission, and zoonotic disease risk. Although the effects of stress on immunity are well known, stress hormones could also affect host–vector interactions via modification of host behaviours or vector-feeding patterns and subsequent reproductive success. Here, we experimentally manipulated songbird stress hormones and examined subsequent feeding preferences, feeding success, and productivity of mosquito vectors in addition to defensive behaviours of hosts. Despite being more defensive, birds with elevated stress hormone concentrations were approximately twice as likely to be fed on by mosquitoes compared to control birds. Moreover, stress hormones altered the relationship between the timing of laying and clutch size in blood-fed mosquitoes. Our results suggest that host stress could affect the transmission dynamics of vector-borne parasites via multiple pathways.