Meeting Abstract

P2.167  Thursday, Jan. 5  Does variation in host physiology occur among urban-rural habitats in disease prevalence? BORUTA, M.*; BRACE, A.J.; LIEBL, A.L.; MARTIN, L.B.; Univ. of South Florida, Tampa; Univ. of South Florida, Tampa; Univ. of South Florida, Tampa; Univ. of South Florida, Tampa

Interactions between hosts, parasites, and their environments strongly influence disease emergence and persistence. For example, many avian zoonotic diseases are more commonly found in urban rather than rural environments. Closer proximity and higher densities of human and wildlife populations in urban areas allow for increased contact rates between inter- and intraspecifics. Often urbanization changes patterns in parasite, vector, or host densities, which influence transmission rate, but host physiological variation and behavior may also be important. Urban ecosystems expose organisms to recurring or prolonged stressors favoring individuals able to cope and survive. In particular, anthropological stressors (e.g. habitat modification, increased competition, exposure to pollutants) are likely to affect both immune function and glucocorticoid regulation, which is responsible for stress attenuation and recovery. In this study, we looked at whether urbanization affected host variation of corticosterone levels and corticosterone-sensitive immune functions in Northern Cardinals Cardinalis cardinalis, an abundant passerine commonly found in both urban and rural environments throughout the Eastern United States. Comparisons regarding host physiological variation between paired urban and rural sites and their relationship to habitat characteristics could provide a rigorous framework for further research on how urban-rural gradation impacts host physiology and disease incidence.