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Ecological immunology is an interdisciplinary field that helps elucidate interactions between the environment and immune response. The host species individuals experience have profound effects on immune response in many species of insects. However, this conclusion comes from studies of herbivorous insects even though species of mycophagous insects also inhabit many different host species. The goal of this study was to determine if fungal host species as well as individual, sex, body size, and host patch predict one aspect of immune function, phenoloxidase activity (PO). We sampled a metapopulation of Bolitotherus cornutus, a mycophagous beetle in southwestern Virginia. B. cornutus live on three species of fungus that differ in nutritional quality, social environment, and density. A filter paper phenoloxidase assay was used to quantify phenoloxidase activity. Overall, PO activity was significantly repeatable among individuals (0.57) in adult B. cornutus. While there was significant variance among individuals in PO activity, there were surprisingly no significant differences in PO activity among subpopulations, beetles living on different host species, or between the sexes; there was also no effect of body size. Our results suggest that other factors such as age, genotype, disease prevalence, or natal environment may be generating variance among individuals in PO activity.


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