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Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part A, Ecological and Integrative Physiology






John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Trade‐offs among the key life‐history traits of reproduction and immunity have been widely documented. However, the currency in use is not well‐understood. We investigated how reproducing female side‐blotched lizards, Uta stansburiana, allocate lipids versus proteins when given an immune challenge. We tested whether lizards would invest more in reproduction or immunity depending on reproductive stage. Females were given stable isotopes (15N‐leucine and 13C‐1‐palmitic acid), maintained on a regular diet and given either a cutaneous biopsy or a sham biopsy (control). Stable isotopes were monitored and analyzed in feces and uric acid, skin biopsies, eggs, and toe clips. We found that lizards deposited both proteins and lipids into their healing wounds (immune‐challenged), skin (control), and eggs (all) and that catabolism of proteins exceeded incorporation into tissue during wound‐healing. Specifically, we found that healed biopsies of wounded animals had more leucine and palmitic acid than the nonregrown skin biopsies taken from unwounded control animals. Earlier in reproduction, lizards invested relatively more labeled proteins into healing their wound tissue, but not into unwounded skin of control animals. Thus, reproduction is sometimes favored over self‐maintenance, but only in later reproductive stages. Finally, we documented positive relationships among the amount of palmitic acid deposited in the eggs, the amount of food eaten, and the amount of palmitic acid excreted, suggesting higher turnover rates of lipids in lizards investing highly in their eggs.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Pettit, Taylor V., Pettit, RJ, Durso, Andrew M., French, Susannah S. Investment of both essential fatty and amino acids to immunity varies depending on reproductive stage. J Exp Zool. 2019; 331: 552– 561., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.