Presentation Title

Immune Activation Influences the Trade-off between Thermoregulation and Shelter Use

Location

Nessmith-Lane Atrium

Session Format

Poster Presentation

Research Area Topic:

Natural & Physical Sciences - Biology

Abstract

Animal behavior is influenced by many environmental factors, including temperature and predation risk. Although many species utilize shelters to buffer ambient temperature and avoid predators, a tradeoff can exist between thermoregulation and predator avoidance (e.g., an animal avoids a shelter that is too hot or cold at the expense of increased vulnerability to predators). Immune activation influences both thermoregulation and shelter use yet, its role in mediating a tradeoff between these two important processes is unclear. Thus, we examined the dynamics of this thermoregulation-shelter use tradeoff using the cornsnake (Pantherophis guttatus) and a repeated-measures 2 ÌÑ 2 factorial design in a thermal gradient where shelter availability and immune activation status were manipulated. Immune activation (injection of lipopolysaccharide [LPS], an endotoxin found in the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria) did not elicit behavioral fever or change shelter use when shelter was available across the entire thermal gradient. Although snakes strongly prioritized shelter use (e.g., snakes injected with saline were observed under shelter 98% of the time), their prioritization shifted during immune challenge. Snakes injected with LPS that were forced to choose between preferred temperature and shelter use maintained thermoregulation, but they spent up to 9-fold more time exposed relative to when they were injected with saline. These results demonstrate the plasticity of the widespread tradeoff between thermoregulation and shelter use. Our results also indicate that immune-challenged animals not exhibiting fever may still exhibit important shifts in the prioritization of thermoregulation tus, we recommend a more nuanced assessment of the effects of immune activation on thermoregulatory behavior.

Presentation Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Start Date

4-16-2016 10:45 AM

End Date

4-16-2016 12:00 PM

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Apr 16th, 10:45 AM Apr 16th, 12:00 PM

Immune Activation Influences the Trade-off between Thermoregulation and Shelter Use

Nessmith-Lane Atrium

Animal behavior is influenced by many environmental factors, including temperature and predation risk. Although many species utilize shelters to buffer ambient temperature and avoid predators, a tradeoff can exist between thermoregulation and predator avoidance (e.g., an animal avoids a shelter that is too hot or cold at the expense of increased vulnerability to predators). Immune activation influences both thermoregulation and shelter use yet, its role in mediating a tradeoff between these two important processes is unclear. Thus, we examined the dynamics of this thermoregulation-shelter use tradeoff using the cornsnake (Pantherophis guttatus) and a repeated-measures 2 ÌÑ 2 factorial design in a thermal gradient where shelter availability and immune activation status were manipulated. Immune activation (injection of lipopolysaccharide [LPS], an endotoxin found in the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria) did not elicit behavioral fever or change shelter use when shelter was available across the entire thermal gradient. Although snakes strongly prioritized shelter use (e.g., snakes injected with saline were observed under shelter 98% of the time), their prioritization shifted during immune challenge. Snakes injected with LPS that were forced to choose between preferred temperature and shelter use maintained thermoregulation, but they spent up to 9-fold more time exposed relative to when they were injected with saline. These results demonstrate the plasticity of the widespread tradeoff between thermoregulation and shelter use. Our results also indicate that immune-challenged animals not exhibiting fever may still exhibit important shifts in the prioritization of thermoregulation tus, we recommend a more nuanced assessment of the effects of immune activation on thermoregulatory behavior.