Loren Merrill, a postdoctoral researcher in the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be giving a presentation on his research on the evolution of immune function in response to parasites.
His presentation, “Life history and immune function: understanding the causes and consequences of variation in defenses against parasites” will be from 4-5 p.m., Thursday, April 16, in Moulton Hall, room 210.

Abstract of Presentation

Parasites are thought to comprise over 50 percent of the species on our planet, and can exert powerful selective forces on their hosts. As such, defenses against parasites and pathogens are critical components of an organism’s life history. In spite of the importance of these defenses, we see a high degree of variation both among and within species in levels of immune function. What are the causes and consequences of this variation, and how does this variation relate to other life history traits? In this talk, I will touch on three aspects of my research program: 1) the role of rearing environment on resource allocation strategies in a marine fish, 2) the impact of early life exposure to antigens on the following traits in zebra finches: ontogeny of the immune system and the expression of a sexual signal, and 3) the link between stress, immune function, and life history in an avian brood parasite. This work highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the field of ecoimmunology, and underscores the dynamic interplay between the immune system and other critical life history traits.