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Local variation in helminth burdens of bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) from ecologically similar sites: temporal stability and relationships with hormone concentrations and social behaviour

  • C.J. Barnard (a1), K. Kulis (a2), J.M. Behnke (a3), A. Bajer (a2), J. Gromadzka-Ostrowska (a4), M. Stachon (a4) and E. Sinski (a2)...

Abstract

Populations of bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) in a fragmented forest habitat in north-east Poland showed local differences in helminth infection intensity, morphometric measures and organ weights that were consistent with differences at the same locations two years previously. Although overall intensities of infection were lower than previously, and there were some differences in the relative intensities of individual helminth species, site differences remained significant and were consistent across replicated subsites. In keeping with site differences in helminth infection and adrenal gland weight and asymmetry, voles at site 1 (high intensity infection) had higher circulating concentrations of corticosterone than those at site 2 (low intensity infection). Since males were sampled outside the breeding season, and thus non-scrotal, testosterone levels were low and did not differ between sites. As previously, voles at site 1 also showed greater hind foot asymmetry. Dyadic interactions between males from the same and different sites in the laboratory showed that males from site 1 were significantly less aggressive, especially when confronted with intruder males from site 2. There was no relationship between aggressiveness and intensity of infection overall or at site 1, but a significant negative relationship emerged at site 2. Aggression thus appeared to be downregulated at the higher intensity site independently of individual levels of infection. Terminal corticosterone concentrations were greater at site 1 and lower among residents that initiated more aggression. While corticosterone concentrations rose over the period of testing, they did not correlate with the amount of aggression initiated or received.

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*Fax: (++44) 115 9513251 E-mail: christopher.barnard@notingham.ac.uk

References

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Local variation in helminth burdens of bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) from ecologically similar sites: temporal stability and relationships with hormone concentrations and social behaviour

  • C.J. Barnard (a1), K. Kulis (a2), J.M. Behnke (a3), A. Bajer (a2), J. Gromadzka-Ostrowska (a4), M. Stachon (a4) and E. Sinski (a2)...

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