Fueling Defense: Effects of Resources on the Ecology and Evolution of Tolerance to Parasite Infection

Sarah A. Budischak, Clayton E. Cressler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Resource availability is a key environmental constraint affecting the ecology and evolution of species. Resources have strong effects on disease resistance, but they can also affect the other main parasite defense strategy, tolerance. A small but growing number of animal studies are beginning to investigate the effects of resources on tolerance phenotypes. Here, we review how resources affect tolerance strategies across animal taxa ranging from fruit flies to frogs to mice. Surprisingly, resources (quality and quantity) can increase or reduce tolerance, dependent upon the particular host-parasite system. To explore this seeming contradiction, we recast predictions of models of sterility tolerance and mortality tolerance in a resource-dependent context. Doing so reveals that resources can have very different epidemiological and evolutionary effects, depending on what aspects of the tolerance phenotype are affected. Thus, it is critical to consider both sterility and mortality in future empirical studies of how behavioral and environmental resource availability affect tolerance to infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2453
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Oct 31 2018


  • defense strategy
  • foraging
  • parasite infection
  • resistance
  • resources
  • tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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