University of Göttingen, Germany
Title: Parasite burden and immunosenescence in a short living chameleon, Furcifer labordi
Biography: Falk Eckhardt
Immunosenescence, the decrease of immune efficiency with proceeding age, is increasingly recognized as having important inferences for host-parasite dynamics. Life history theory predicts that species with shorter lifespan show high investments in to growth and reproduction at the expense of immune defenses. Within tetrapods, the Labord’s chameleon (Furcifer labordi) was found to be the shortest living species. These chameleons from the deciduous dry forests from western and southwestern Madagascar have a reported lifespan of only several months. To investigate to which extent immunosenescence and liked to this increased parasite burden influences the early die-off, we examined endo, blood and ecto-parasite burden. Here, we examined a wild living population of F. labordi and for comparison the sympatric and perennial F. nicosiai in the Kirindy Forest. Moreover, we kept some individuals of F. labordi in single cages under ambient conditions with daily food and water supply. We detected a dramatic increase of endo-parasites relating to prevalence, burden and mixed infections over the reproductive period in wild F. labordi. Interestingly, males of F. labordi showed a significantly higher prevalence of intestinal parasites. Moreover, in caged individuals both sexes showed delayed senescence, less parasite burden and were longer living than their conspecifics in nature. Furthermore, F. nicosiai was found to have a belated increase in endo-parasites compared to F. labordi.