Immunocompetence handicap hypothesis in tree frog: trade-off between sexual signals and immunity ?

Abstract : The immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH) assumes that testosterone plays a dual role in mediating both sexual signal expression and immunosuppression. Although there is good evidence of the ICHH in birds, it was primarily tested using only one sexual signal approach. By focusing on the European tree frog Hyla arborea, a species for which mate choice is based on both acoustic and visual signals, we test for the first time the ICHH in a multimodal communication system. The ICHH may be viewed as a universal way to explain signal honesty no matter the sensory modality used by animals. After studying the effects of testosterone on the acous- tic and visual sexual signals through a daily testosterone supplementation, the effects of androgen on the immune system response were measured through a phytohaemagglutinin injection. In H. arborea, we demonstrate that both the acoustic and visual sexual sig- nals were testosterone dependent. However, the phytohaemagglutinin injection did not provoke immunosuppression for testosterone- supplemented males. Surprisingly, the testosterone-supplemented males with a high body mass presented an immunoenhancement. Therefore, it seems that ICHH is not an integrating mechanism that is able to explain signal honesty in the multimodal signaling system used by H. arborea in mate choice. On the contrary, our results support the idea that multiple mechanisms (e.g., cost-added and index signals) operating simultaneously may explain signal honesty of both acoustic and visual signals.
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Julia L. Desprat, Thierry Lengagne, Adeline Dumet, Emmanuel Desouhant, Nathalie Mondy. Immunocompetence handicap hypothesis in tree frog: trade-off between sexual signals and immunity ?. Behavioral Ecology, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2015, 26 (4), pp.1138-1146. ⟨10.1093/beheco/arv057⟩. ⟨hal-01323976⟩

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