Resistance, tolerance and avoidance as strategies against multiple infections in Mastomys natalensis: a role of personality? 01/11/2021 - 31/10/2025


Animals have evolved three strategies to prevent and survive infections: i) avoiding the encounter with infectious agents (i.e., avoidance), ii) limiting parasite proliferation (i.e., resistance), iii) reducing the damage caused by the infection (i.e., tolerance). However, these strategies induce costs for hosts resulting in a trade-off between defence mechanisms and fitness traits (e.g., growth, reproduction). These trade offs may differ depending on factors like the type of parasite, the infection probability, host life history, age and personality. In disease ecology, personality traits, such as boldness and exploration, have been linked to the probability of infection in many host-parasite systems. However, it is not yet clear whether personality also can explain heterogeneity in defence strategies among individuals. I will address this knowledge gap using the multimammate mouse Mastomys natalensis and two of its parasites (Morogoro virus and a nematod Trichuris mastomysi) as model system. In particular, I will 1) experimentally test mice response against a macro- and microparasite infection, 2) determine the correlation between resistance, tolerance and avoidance, 3) investigate the link between these three defence strategies and host personality and 4) integrate information from laboratory experiments with observations of wild populations.


Research team(s)

Project type(s)

  • Research Project