Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study helps explain island populations’ susceptibility to exotic diseases

16.06.2004


Researchers have shown that Darwin’s finches on smaller islands in the Galapagos archipelago have weaker immune responses to disease and foreign pathogens---findings that could help explain why island populations worldwide are particularly susceptible to disease.



A paper, written by University of Michigan researcher Johannes Foufopoulos, an assistant professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment who specializes in disease ecology, and collaborators from Princeton University and the University of Upsalla, investigates the relationship between immunological investment (how developed is the body’s immune system), native parasite abundance, and island size. The findings were published online June 8 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

The paper helps scientists understand how island populations respond to invasive parasite species. The introduction of exotic parasites and diseases through travel, commerce and domestic animals and the resulting destruction in native wildlife populations is a worldwide problem, Foufopoulos said, but it’s even more serious for species that have evolved on islands.


For example, in the Hawaiian islands, many native bird species have gone extinct after the introduction of avian malaria, he said. The Galapagos authorities are now realizing that the greatest danger to the islands’ wildlife comes from exotic species, such as invasive pathogens, accidentally introduced by humans.

The study shows that people on islands have different immune systems "and this may be the explanation for their susceptibility to invasive diseases," Foufopoulos said.

The team found that larger islands with larger bird populations harbor more native parasites and diseases, because the number of parasites is directly dependent on the size of the population. Island size and parasite richness then influenced the strength of the immune response of the hosts.

The researchers tested two types of immune responses---cell-mediated responses and production of antibodies--in four populations of Darwin’s finches. By challenging the birds immune systems with foreign proteins, they measured the average immune response of each island population.

Finches on smaller islands with fewer parasites had a weaker immune response, Foufopoulos said. For these birds, Foufopoulos said, "maintaining a strong immune system is a little bit like house insurance: you don’t want to spend too much on an expensive policy if you live in an area with no earthquakes, fires or floods."

Similarly, if parasites are scarce, the birds don’t need to invest in an "expensive" immune system, he said.

When new parasites are then accidentally introduced by humans to these islands, the birds are ill-prepared to resist infection.

Laura Bailey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.snre.umich.edu/
http://www.snre.umich.edu/faculty-staff-directory/faculty-detail.php?faculty_id=180

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

nachricht Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>