We investigated the effects of nutritional limitation, humoral immune activation, and their interaction on post-nuptial molting of aviary-kept house sparrows (Passer domesticus (L., 1758)). In a 2 x 2 experimental design, we measured the progress of molting and the quality of feathers produced during molting by house sparrows exposed to different diet qualities (high and low) and humoral immune activation with sheep red blood cells (SRBC). Food quality, but not the activation of humoral immunity, affected significantly the body mass and the process of molting. Sparrows feeding on low-quality food had decreased body mass and longer molts than the high-quality group. Low-quality food, but not the activation of humoral immunity, reduced significantly the length and mass (i.e., the quality) of primaries grown during molting. Birds responded significantly to injection with SRBC compared with the control group, but the immune response was similar between nutritional groups. The absence of a negative effect of humoral immunity on molting in house sparrows might be related to the low energy and nutritional requirements of mounting and maintaining a humoral immune response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology