Male morph predicts investment in larval immune function in the dung beetle, Onthophagus taurus

Sheena Cotter, M. Beveridge, L.W. Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Investment in immunity is costly, so that resource-based trade-offs between immunity and sexually selected ornaments might be expected. The amount of resources that an individual can invest in each trait will be limited by the total resources available to them. It would therefore be informative to investigate how investment in immune function changes during growth or production of the sexual trait as resources are diverted to it. Using the dung beetle, Onthophagus taurus, which displays both sexual and male dimorphism in horn size, we examined changes in one measure of immune function, phenoloxidase (PO) activity, in the hemolymph of larvae prior to and during horn growth. We found that PO levels differed between small- and large-horned males throughout the final instar prior to the point where investment in horn growth was taking place. PO levels in females were intermediate to the 2 male morphs. These differences could not be accounted for by differences in condition, measured as hemolymph protein levels and weight. We suggest that the observed differences might be associated with sex- and morph-specific variation in juvenile hormone levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-337
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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