Behavioural fever is a common response to immune challenge in ectotherms and confers survival benefits. However, costs accrue rapidly as body temperature rises. Thus, the magnitude of adaptive fever responses might reflect the balance of costs and benefits. We investigated behavioural fever in desert locusts, Schistocerca gregaria, infected with the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium acridum. We first tracked the time course of behavioural fever in infected locusts, demonstrating that body temperatures rose on the day following inoculation (day 1), and reached peak intensity on the day after that (day 2). Subsequently, the magnitude of fever responses varied during a day, and locusts tended to exhibit high-intensity fever responses in the mornings when basking was first possible. We speculate that this may have resulted from increased fungal load caused by unimpeded growth overnight when locusts could not fever. We next inoculated locusts with different M. acridum doses ranging from 0 to ca. 75,000 conidia. The magnitude of their behavioural fever responses on day 2 post-inoculation was positively related to fungal dose. Thus, we demonstrate dose-dependency in the behavioural fever responses of desert locusts and suggest that this may reflect the adaptive deployment of behavioural fever to minimize costs relative to benefits.
- ANISOPLIAE VAR ACRIDUM