Meeting Abstract

P2.97  Thursday, Jan. 5  The effects of captivity on immune function and physical performance in house sparrows BRACE, A.J.*; LIEBL, A.L.; BORUTA, M.; MARTIN, L.B.; University of South Florida; University of South Florida; University of South Florida; University of South Florida

Exposure of an organism to a chronic stressor can result in suppression of the immune system through increases in glucocorticoids. Although the mechanisms of immune suppression are well-known, there are presently only two organismal-level hypotheses to explain this effect: i) immune suppression occurs to decrease the chance of an autoimmune response to self-antigens that an organism releases in response to a stressor and/or ii) immune suppression allows for the reallocation of resources towards immediate survival traits, such as flight capacity, an essential component of escape behavior in songbirds. Previous work in house sparrows (Passer domesticus) has shown that captivity alters regulation of corticosterone, induces hyperinflammation, deregulates leukocyte flux to the skin post-wounding and compromises antibacterial activity in blood, indicating that prolonged captivity acts as a chronic stressor. Previous work has also indicated that flight performance changes in captivity, although it could not be determined whether these effects were due to a decline in physical condition or psychological habituation to the flight performance apparatus. Here, we used a modified version of the flight performance apparatus to test whether several immune functions declined faster than physical performance. Such a trend would support the hypothesis that immune suppression in response to stressors occurs to promote other functions, at least over a short time scale.