Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Helps Explain Island Populations' Susceptibility To Exotic Diseases

Date:
June 16, 2004
Source:
University Of Michigan
Summary:
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.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- 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.

Related Articles


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.

###

For more information, visit: School of Natural Resources & Environment -- http://www.snre.umich.edu/

Johannes Foufopoulos, Ph.D. -- http://www.snre.umich.edu/faculty-staff-directory/faculty-detail.php?faculty_id=180.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan. "Study Helps Explain Island Populations' Susceptibility To Exotic Diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040616063324.htm>.
University Of Michigan. (2004, June 16). Study Helps Explain Island Populations' Susceptibility To Exotic Diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040616063324.htm
University Of Michigan. "Study Helps Explain Island Populations' Susceptibility To Exotic Diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040616063324.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins