Immune Investment and Tradeoffs in Butterflies
Animals are under constant threat from parasites, and in response, they have evolved elaborate immune defenses. While having robust immunity seems adaptive, there is often striking variation between individuals in their immune capacity. One reason is that immunity is costly and carries a risk of self-damage. I am interested in how individuals balance these tradeoffs when investing in parasite defenses and how this generates variation and impacts infection outcomes and life history tradeoffs.
I started this work as a postdoc Dr. Emilie Snell-Rood at the University of Minnesota. Using butterflies, I tested how varying levels of stress and immune challenges during development changed investment in immune capacity. Testing these tradeoffs in butterflies will allow for a broader understanding of the plasticity of parasite defenses and how animals cope with multiple stressors and allocate resources towards immunity.
BACK to RESEARCH