Woodpeckers and Parasites: Testing for correlations between immune function and carotenoid levels
presentationposted on 19.06.2017, 00:00 by Ashleigh Rhea
Many physiological processes must take place in order for an immune response to be activated. Adequate nutrition providing all of the body's essential vitamins, minerals, pigments is a necessary component of normal health responses. Diet-based carotenoids have been linked with activating the body's immune response. What is unclear is whether the amount of carotenoids present, seen in the surface area of carotenoid-based plumage coloration, correlate with the intensity of parasitic infection. I am actively testing how the amount of carotenoid-based plumage coloration corresponds with the level of infection with avian malaria (Plasmodium spp. and Haemoproteus spp.) in Red-breasted sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus ruber). The findings of my study will help to emphasize the importance of nutritional status on population health and sexual selection.