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In Sickness and In Health: Infection Influences Courtship Behavior

In Sickness and In Health: Infection Influences Courtship Behavior

Anna Smith

Integrative Biology

This study looks into how infection influences courtship behavior in pair bonded zebra finches. Previous studies have shown that pair bonds have been found to have a significant effect on reproductive success when they are maintained over multiple breeding attempts. We looked into when an individual is sick, and their energy is reallocated to fighting their infection, how this can have an impact on their behavior. These changes in behavior had an impact; both sickness behaviors were induced, and energetically expensive reproductive behaviors were decreased. There was also an increase in a behavior called clumping, which is typically classified as a sickness behavior, leading us to believe this behavior also has some thermoregulatory benefits. Overall, we found our immune challenge (LPS, a non-replicating antigen) had an effect on both sickness and reproductive behaviors. Looking into this question further could lead to a better understanding of how a species of pair bonding individuals could have their reproductive success effected by an infection spreading throughout their population.