There are at least two reasons to study traits that mediate successful range expansions. First, dispersers will found new populations and thus impact the distribution and evolution of species. Second, organisms moving into new areas will influence the fate of resident communities, directly competing with or indirectly affecting residents by spreading non-native or spilling-back native parasites. The success of invaders in new areas is likely mediated by a counterbalancing of costly traits. In new areas where threats are comparatively rare, individuals that grow rapidly and breed prolifically should be at an advantage. High investment in defenses should thus be disfavored. In the present study, we compared the energetic, nutritional and collateral damage costs of an inflammatory response among Kenyan house sparrow (Passer domesticus) populations of different ages, asking whether costs were related to traits of individuals from three different capture sites. Kenya is among the world's most recent range expansions for this species, and we recently found that the expression of Toll-like receptors (TLRs), leukocyte receptors that instigate inflammatory responses when bound to microbial elements, was related to the range expansion across the country. Here, we found (contrary to our expectations) that energetic and nutritional costs of inflammation were higher, but damage costs were lower, in range-edge compared to core birds. Moreover, at the individual level, TLR-4 expression was negatively related to commodity costs (energy and a critical amino acid) of inflammation. Our data thus suggest that costs of inflammation, perhaps mediated by TLR expression, might mitigate successful range expansions.
- Received December 13, 2016.
- Accepted April 2, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd