We investigated whether an immune response is associated with growth, female reproduction and survival costs in the house cricket. Using different intensities of challenge immune (implantation of one piece of nylon (1N) and two nylons (2N), with their respective sham-challenge and control groups) with body size and exoskeleton thickness as response variables, growth costs were determined for both sexes. A similar methodology was followed for reproduction costs, in which egg number and size, and female survival were measured as response variables. It was also determined whether mated and virgin females showed different immune responses. Body size decreased with immune challenge but only in the 2N treatment. Exoskeleton thickness increased in both sham-challenge groups and the 1N group but decreased in the 2N group. Egg number decreased more in the sham-challenge groups followed by the 1N and 2N groups. The 2N group showed the largest egg size at the end of the experiment. In these females, 2N group died first followed by the 1N, two nylon sham and one nylon sham groups. Finally, mated females showed a lower immune response than virgin females. These results are consistent with ecological immunity theory. The discovery of exoskeleton-related costs of immunity and injury may have important implications for experimental design in studies of the cost of immunity.
Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.