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Morph-specific immunity in male Podarcis muralis

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Permanent colour polymorphism in lizards is maintained by complex interactions between environmental pressures and physiological traits (such as immune responsiveness) that differ among morphs. In this study we investigated whether T-cell mediated immune response vary among male colour morphs in the trimorphic (white, yellow and red) common wall lizard, Podarcis muralis. We found that yellow males showed a lower immune response compared to both red and white males, whose responses were similar. Thus, immune responsiveness is morph-specific in male common wall lizards, suggesting that this physiological trait could play an important role in maintaining colour polymorphism in this species. Moreover, immune responsiveness significantly increased with increasing male size, irrespective of colour morph, indicating that it could be regarded as a condition-dependent trait.

Affiliations: 1: Dipartimento di Biologia Animale, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Piazza Botta 9, I-27100 Pavia, Italy; 2: Museo di Storia Naturale, Università degli Studi di Pavia, Piazza Botta 9, I-27100 Pavia, Italy; 3: Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Venezia 55, I-20121 Milano, Italy


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