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Immune function varies between short- and long-distance migrants during autumn migration

Birberg, Cyndi (2016) BION01 20152
Degree Projects in Biology
Popular Abstract
Do sick birds migrate at different times than healthy ones?

The word migration comes from the Latin migratus that means “to change”, referring to how birds change their geographic locations seasonally. Birds migrate to escape from decreased food availability or harsh weather on their breeding grounds. They migrate to areas of high or increasing resources where they stay during the winter period before migrating back to the breeding grounds. The most common pattern involves flying south to warmer regions in the autumn, and flying north in the spring to breed during summer. With respect in Northern Europe, some migratory birds travel relatively short distances between their breeding and wintering areas, wintering in southern Europe or... (More)
Do sick birds migrate at different times than healthy ones?

The word migration comes from the Latin migratus that means “to change”, referring to how birds change their geographic locations seasonally. Birds migrate to escape from decreased food availability or harsh weather on their breeding grounds. They migrate to areas of high or increasing resources where they stay during the winter period before migrating back to the breeding grounds. The most common pattern involves flying south to warmer regions in the autumn, and flying north in the spring to breed during summer. With respect in Northern Europe, some migratory birds travel relatively short distances between their breeding and wintering areas, wintering in southern Europe or Northern Africa; those are called short distance migrants (SDM). Other species migrate to south of the Sahara and winter in Africa; those are called long distance migrants (LDM). Birds accumulate large reserves of fat which they use as energy store for their migration.

During migration, birds have to deal with different external factors. For example, they might encounter different parasites and pathogens that will cause negative consequences. To protect the body against parasites and pathogens, birds have, as we humans, a defense system: the immune system. However, this immune system has costs that need to be trade-off with other demands, playing an important role in birds’ physiology, behaviour and fitness.

In my thesis, I studied the immune system and parasites of migrating birds caught in Falsterbo, stopover site for migrant birds in southwest Sweden. For that, I analyzed their blood samples in the laboratory using three immunological assays, and a fourth method to detect blood parasites, called PCR.

I found variations within the different immune parameters between LDM and SDM during the migration season. My data suggest that LDM invest more in immune function while SDM invest less, and that individuals with better immune function migrate before individuals with a weaker immune function. Hence, quantity of feather mites in LDM and percentage of infection in SDM will increase during the migration period; so feather mites and blood parasites can affect cost of migration that can lead to relapses in arrival date, increased susceptibility, and even a removal of infected birds from the population.



Advisor: Arne Hegemann
Master´s Degree Project 45 credits in Biology, Animal Ecology 2016
Department of Biology, Lund University (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Birberg, Cyndi
supervisor
organization
course
BION01 20152
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
8891797
date added to LUP
2016-09-15 09:09:02
date last changed
2016-09-15 09:09:02
@misc{8891797,
  author       = {Birberg, Cyndi},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Immune function varies between short- and long-distance migrants during autumn migration},
  year         = {2016},
}