Fevers and the social costs of acute infection in wild vervet monkeys

McFarland, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8245-9269, Henzi, S.P., Barrett, L., Bonnell, T., Fuller, A., Young, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-8919-2093 and Hetem, R.S., 2021. Fevers and the social costs of acute infection in wild vervet monkeys. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118 (44): e210788111. ISSN 0027-8424

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Abstract

Fevers are considered an adaptive response by the host to infection. For gregarious animals, however, fever and the associated sickness behaviors may signal a temporary loss of capacity, offering other group members competitive opportunities. We implanted wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) with miniature data loggers to obtain continuous measurements of core body temperature. We detected 128 fevers in 43 monkeys, totaling 776 fever-days over a 6-year period. Fevers were characterized by a persistent elevation in mean and minimum 24-h body temperature of at least 0.5 °C. Corresponding behavioral data indicated that febrile monkeys spent more time resting and less time feeding, consistent with the known sickness behaviors of lethargy and anorexia, respectively. We found no evidence that fevers influenced the time individuals spent socializing with conspecifics, suggesting social transmission of infection within a group is likely. Notably, febrile monkeys were targeted with twice as much aggression from their conspecifics and were six times more likely to become injured compared to afebrile monkeys. Our results suggest that sickness behavior, together with its agonistic consequences, can carry meaningful costs for highly gregarious mammals. The degree to which social factors modulate the welfare of infected animals is an important aspect to consider when attempting to understand the ecological implications of disease.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Creators: McFarland, R., Henzi, S.P., Barrett, L., Bonnell, T., Fuller, A., Young, C. and Hetem, R.S.
Publisher: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date: 2 November 2021
Volume: 118
Number: 44
ISSN: 0027-8424
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1073/pnas.2107881118DOI
1492318Other
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 16 Nov 2021 10:57
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:57
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/44809

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