How does immune activation influence the tradeoff between safety and thermoregulation?
For animals, refuges can be a source of both safety and thermoregulation. However, variation in the availability and quality of refuges may lead to tradeoffs between safety and thermoregulation. This potential tradeoff may be affected by physiological shifts, such as an immune response. The thermoregulatory behavior of squamate reptiles is well studied and many lizards and snakes are precise thermoregulators that can display shifts in their thermal preference due to immune activation (e.g., behavioral fever). To observe the effects of immune activation on a safety-thermoregulation tradeoff, we conducted a 2 x 2 factorial experiment with captive-bred corn snakes. In a thermal gradient, we manipulated shelter availability (full or partial shelter) and immune status (immune challenge [injection of lipopolysaccharide, a component of bacterial cell walls] or control [saline injection]).
Preliminary results indicate that snakes exhibit strong preference for shelter during thermoregulation. This study will give insight into the flexibility of widespread tradeoffs by examining the effects of immune activation on the tradeoff between safety and thermoregulation.