IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Testosterone, immunocompetence, and honest sexual signaling in male red grouse

Listed author(s):
  • François Mougeot
  • Justin R. Irvine
  • Linzi Seivwright
  • Steve M. Redpath
  • Stuart Piertney
Registered author(s):

    The expression of sexual ornaments has been suggested to reliably indicate individual quality, such as the ability to cope with parasites and diseases. The Immunocompetence Handicap Hypothesis (IHH) states that testosterone-dependent ornaments honestly signal such quality because of physiological costs associated with testosterone, such as impaired immune function. We tested predictions of the IHH both correlatively and experimentally in red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus. Male grouse exhibit supra-orbital red combs whose size is testosterone-dependent. We found that comb size was not correlated to infection intensity by two parasites (coccidia and the nematode Trichostrongylus tenuis), but it was significantly positively correlated with condition and T-cell-mediated immunity (the ability to mount a primary inflammatory response). We manipulated testosterone by means of implants and re-caught males after a month to investigate the effects on comb size, condition, immunity, and parasite load. Males implanted with testosterone had increased comb size, lost more condition, and had lower T-cell-mediated immunity than control males. Increased testosterone also resulted in a significant increase in coccidia infection intensity but had no effect on T. tenuis burden. The results are consistent with predictions of the IHH and suggest that comb size honestly indicates immunocompetence and males' ability to cope with certain parasites. Females could thus benefit from choosing mates based on the expression of this sexual trait. Copyright 2004.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by International Society for Behavioral Ecology in its journal Behavioral Ecology.

    Volume (Year): 15 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 6 (November)
    Pages: 930-937

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:15:y:2004:i:6:p:930-937
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK

    Fax: 01865 267 985
    Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:15:y:2004:i:6:p:930-937. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.