Immune components in eggs of New World blackbirds

Science Center Objects

Interest in the immune systems of wild birds has increased as public health authorities have recognized that many emerging infectious diseases of wildlife can be transmitted to humans (i.e., zoonoses). Eco-immunology is an emerging field that characterizes how immune adaptations of wild species vary as a result of evolution in different habitats and niches. Present understanding of the influence of specific life-history traits and habitat on wild bird immune investment is rudimentary, and few studies have compared multiple immunological parameters of related wild bird species. In collaboration with Creighton University and the Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de Puerto Rico, NPWRC is comparing passive immune components of six songbird species in a single taxonomic family, New World blackbirds (Icteridae), including two obligate brood parasites. Information from this research will be used to evaluate how the observed differences in immune components in eggs of different species may be related to divergence in life-history traits and ecological niches.